Sunday Times levels copyright charges at Greenwald after he debunks Snowden report

The UK newspaper Sunday Times is accusing US journalist Glenn Greenwald of copyright violations after he debunked the paper's report on Russian and Chinese spies allegedly accessing Edward Snowden's NSA leaks.

Greenwald, who was the first to contact Snowden after he left the US with his data trove, slammed the Sunday Times report which cited unnamed UK officials as saying Britain had to pull back its agents from China and Russia because those two countries had cracked Snowden's documents.

In his disproving report for the Intercept, Greenwald used a screengrab of the Sunday Times subscription-only article – and that is what the paper is now angry about. The paper says this violates the copyright of “the typographical arrangement of the front page.” The accusations come in a legal notice the Sunday Times sent out on Monday citing the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) adopted by the US.

READ MORE: Snowden destroyed files before going to Russia – Greenwald debunks Sunday Times report

The paper does not, however, respond to Greenwald's criticism, in which he called its article "an utter lie” and an example of "shoddy, primitive” reporting. What he calls into question is the sourcing of the article, as it “does nothing other than quote anonymous British officials,” leaving no-one to keep accountable for the credibility of the claims.

The report's main author Tom Harper has given an interview to the CNN which did little to strengthen the article's claims: the answer to most of the critical questions was "we don't know."

Those questions include how exactly the officials he cites in his report know that Snowden's files had been breached, or whether the files were actually hacked or just handed over to Russia and China, or whether the leaks directly put MI6 agents under threat. Eventually, Harper admits: "We just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government at the moment."

Glenn Greenwald and the Intercept do not appear to be fazed by the Sunday Times' claim. When asked whether he will abide by the DMCA, Greenwald simply told the Daily Dot news website "No."