Report Russia, China cracking Snowden files ‘speculation to vilify whistleblower’

Edward Snowden (Reuters / Mark Blinch)
Claims that the UK pulled out agents from ops in ‘hostile’ countries after Russia and China cracked Snowden-leaked files is an attempt to divert public attention away and vilify the messenger, says ex-Deputy Speaker of the Belgian Parliament Lode Vanoost.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who revealed the extent of America's surveillance program, is back in the headlines. According to anonymous British government sources, the UK has had to withdraw some of its spies from Russia and China as both countries allegedly managed to decode top secret encrypted documents leaked by Snowden

RT:Were you surprised by these reports?

Lode Vanoost: No, the only thing that I wonder about when I hear this kind of so-called ‘revelation’ is - why now? This is absolutely not surprising, it’s a standard procedure when you want to attack a messenger and not talk about the message.

RT:How much weight does the report carry, is it harmless speculation?

LV: Of course it’s speculation - I’m 100 percent sure about that – whether it’s harmless is another matter. This is another attempt to vilify Edward Snowden. It has been done before, so there is nothing new to it. When you call this a report…I always say let’s look at the evidence… there is none. So it’s not really a report, it is what it is – speculation and it’s used to make sure that at least public opinion is influenced in a negative way because these people also see that Snowden is getting more popular and popular despite the Western media barrage on his figure. It’s not a report, it’s not serious, but it’s harmful anyway. That’s the main reason why they do that – to harm him.

READ MORE: Out from the cold: Snowden leaks forced British spies’ pullout from Russia, China - report

RT:In January it was widely reported that Snowden was approached by the FSB, Russia's security agency, but declined the offer. Why is the media so keen to link the whistleblower with Russian intelligence?

LV: It’s exactly what I said – to divert attention away from his revelation. For the media itself it’s also a way of not acknowledging that they themselves have not wanted to see the obvious… everything he did about the NSA, [revelations about] the eavesdropping on a massive scale, etc. It’s just a matter of diverting attention away and of vilifying the messenger. This is a classic propaganda operation.

RT:In the last 10 days Chinese hackers allegedly attacked the US twice. Now they've reportedly cracked the codes in Snowden's documents from two years ago. Why have Chinese hackers caught the spotlight of the media lately?

LV: First of all, I‘m not going to say here that there has been no hacking by Chinese sources. The only thing I see – I have no evidence…It’s all the same thing, it has to do with diverting attention away. There is nothing more to say about it, whether China or any other powerful government that is trying to hack, I would assume that the opposite would surprise me. The thing is – does this really influence policy? If they claim for example that the agents had to be replaced …Agents and spies are being moved all the time for lots of reasons. So is it any different from before? We don’t know that. It’s merely speculative. On the other side there is also the thing that… I’m not saying that any of these spies are not important, but mostly their role is much more exaggerated than what they really mean. But it’s part of the political game that’s being played here.

A picture of Edward Snowden (Reuters/Jason Lee)

‘Criminalizing Snowden and other whistleblowers’

Matteo Bergamini from Independent news network Shout-out-UK doesn’t believe that any of what Edward Snowden did is bad; the recent report is just about criminalizing him and other whistleblowers and stopping them from repeating.

RT:These sources spoke to the Britain's Sunday Times newspaper but didn't say how they know Russia and China accessed those files. Is there any public evidence to back up this report?

Matteo Bergamini: Very little. A variety of different news sources have covered this between the Guardian and Sunday Times that you mentioned. But apart from the pointless speculation there is very little evidence to say any of this. The British government hasn’t made any official statements... Of course it’s still quite harmful because it’s again the same sort of various allegations towards a man that has done a service to democracy.

RT:An official at Britain's Home Office accused Snowden of having “blood on his hands”. What exactly did he mean?

MB: I presume he was stating that Snowden is guilty for leaking this information because now the British government as well as obviously the US government can’t spy on their own citizens as easily as they did beforehand. I don’t believe that any of what Snowden did is bad in any way, I don’t see how he has blood on his hands, but again it’s about making the person seem like a criminal, it’s about criminalizing him and other whistleblowers and stopping them from doing this again. It’s fear mongering in a way.

RT:Snowden has always said he would never hand over the files he had to foreign governments. Do you think he broke that promise?

MB: It would be wrong for me to speculate. I think the reason why Snowden did it was strictly because he saw a great injustice towards democracy and towards the people of the US, Britain and many other Western countries and he wanted to expose that. The trouble is that he saw what happened to Chelsea Manning when she did that in her country. So he had to go somewhere else to protect himself and no one can really blame him for self-preservation. I don’t think however…he would ever willingly give up information because he didn’t want to harm the nation, he just wanted to expose what was going on which he thought was a great injustice.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.