Tag Archives: Snowden

GCHQ and NSA intercepted Yahoo users’ private photographs

GCHQ and NSA intercepted Yahoo users private photographs GCHQ and NSA intercepted Yahoo users private photographs

British and American surveillance agencies teamed up to develop a system that collected millions of images from the webcams of unsuspecting and innocent internet users, new leaked documents reveal.
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This “Optic Nerve” program — administered by the UK’s GCHQ with the assistance of the National Security Agency — routinely intercepted and stored those webcam images in secret starting in 2008, according to documents disclosed by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden and published by The Guardian on Thursday.

The program indiscriminately collected millions of images from people who used Yahoo’s webcam chat function, the Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman and James Ball reported, “including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications.”

According to the journalists, the GCHQ relied on Optic Nerve to experiment with facial recognition programing to monitor existing targets and search for new persons of interest.

But the GCHQ didn’t stop at targeting solely suspected terrorists, the report continues, and instead collected intelligence by seemingly anyone unfortunate enough to log-in to Yahoo’s webcam chat feature, at least between 2008 and 2012.

“Yahoo webcam is known to be used by GCHQ targets,” reads a portion of the classified documentation published by the paper.

The GCHQ did not limit their surveillance to just those target, however. According to the leaked Snowden document, 1.8 million Yahoo users had their webcam images collected by the agency during just a six-month span shortly after Optic Nerve was first rolled out.

When reached for comment by the British paper, a representative for Yahoo said the GCHQ program as explained demonstrates a “whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy.”

Elsewhere in the leaked documentation, GCHQ agents admitted that a large portion of the imagery collected contained “undesirable nudity.”

“Unfortunately … it would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person,” one internal document cited by The Guardian reads.“Also, the fact that the Yahoo software allows more than one person to view a webcam stream without necessarily sending a reciprocal stream means that it appears sometimes to be used for broadcasting pornography.”

And although the program was carried out by British spies, Ackerman and Ball acknowledged that millions of Americans may have had their own likeness — clothed or not — captured in the process.

“GCHQ does not have the technical means to make sure no images of UK or US citizens are collected and stored by the system, and there are no restrictions under UK law to prevent Americans’ images being accessed by British analysts without an individual warrant,” they wrote.

But Vanee Vines, a spokesperson for the NSA, told the Guardian that the US spy agency “does not ask its foreign partners to undertake any intelligence activity that the US government would be legally prohibited from undertaking itself.”

“A key part of the protections that apply to both US persons and citizens of other countries is the mandate that information be in support of a valid foreign intelligence requirement, and comply with US Attorney General-approved procedures to protect privacy rights. Those procedures govern the acquisition, use, and retention of information about US persons,” Vines said.

In an op-ed published in The Guardian also on Thursday, acclaimed security expert and cryptographer Bruce Schneier said even safeguards in place to prevent these images being viewed by any GCHQ staffer should be questioned.

“[I]s it really okay for a computer to monitor you online, and for that data collection and analysis only to count as a potential privacy invasion when a person sees it? I say it’s not, and the latest Snowden leaks only make more clear how important this distinction is,” he wrote.

Source: RT

NSA plans to expand collection of American phone metadata

NSA plans to expand collection of American phone metadata1 NSA plans to expand collection of American phone metadata

Lawsuits waged at the United States government over the National Security Agency’s controversial phone data collection program may actually cause the NSA to hold onto information even longer, a new report reveals.
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A handful of lawsuits have been filed against the US government and the administration of President Barack Obama since last June when former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA has been routinely compelling the nation’s telecommunications companies for the metadatapertaining to millions of Americans. Pres. Obama has since submitted to calls for reforming that program, and even instructed Congress recently to find an alternative approach to storing metadata. According to the Wall Street Journal, however, the NSA may have to hold onto that data for a little bit longer.

On Wednesday this week, WSJ journalists Devlin Barrett and Siobhan Gorman wrote that that the lawsuits filed against the Obama administration over the NSA program may cause some rather unintended consequences to occur. Because the NSA may have to argue those cases in court, they wrote, any intelligence it collected that pertains to the plaintiffs may have to be retained indefinitely pending trial.

Currently, the NSA is obligated to purge metadata from its systems after about five years. Speaking to the Journal, one official said on condition of anonymity that those records are removed from the database about twice a year.

But because those records may become evidence in the lawsuits, the paper alleged, the NSA may be forced to postpone a data purge until after the federal courts consider the cases against the bulk metadata collection program.

“A particular concern, according to one official, is that the older records may give certain parties legal standing to pursue their cases, and that deleting the data could erase evidence that the phone records of those individuals or groups were swept up in the data dragnet,” Barrett and Gorman wrote.

An attorney with one of those plaintiffs that have sued the administration over the NSA program — Patrick Tommey of the American Civil Liberties Union — told the Journal that “It’s difficult to understand why the government would consider taking this position, when the relief we’ve requested in the lawsuit is a purge of our data.”

But Cindy Cohn, a lawyer and legal director for co-plaintiffs at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, acknowledged to the paper, “If they’re destroying evidence, that would be a crime.”

Both the ACLU and EFF filed lawsuits against the administration within days of Mr. Snowden’s first major NSA revelation last June. The EFF has been fighting against the NSA’s alleged spy programs since 2008 when it challenged the government’s “illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet communications surveillance” on behalf of a former AT&T customer. When Snowden’s early June leak showed that telephone lines administered by competitor Verizon were being sent to the NSA, though, the ACLU again filed suit.

“As an organization that advocates for and litigates to defend the civil liberties of society’s most vulnerable, the staff at the ACLU naturally use the phone — a lot — to talk about sensitive and confidential topics with clients, legislators, whistleblowers and ACLU members,”ACLU legal fellow Brett Kaufman wrote when the suit was filed. “And since the ACLU is a VBNS [Verizon Business Network Services] customer, we were immediately confronted with the harmful impact that such broad surveillance would have on our legal and advocacy work.”

After the Verizon revelation, the EFF’s Cohn told the Washington Post that the NSA leaks had been a“tremendous boon” to previously filed legal challenges. Speaking to the Journal this week, though, she said the issue should have been brought before the courts long ago.

“I think they’re looking for any way to throw rocks at the litigation,” she said. “To the extent this is a serious concern, we should have had this discussion in 2008.”

Source: RT

Snowden Documents Reveal Surveillance and Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks and Its Visitors

Snowden Documents Reveal Surveillance and Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks and Its Visitors Snowden Documents Reveal Surveillance and Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks and Its Visitors

The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has long been in the crosshairs of the U.S. government.  Now, more details exposed by The Intercept reveal that the National Security Agency (NSA)’s British counterpart, GCHQ, monitored Internet users who visited the WikiLeaks website and that the Obama administration urged allies to file charges against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, the site’s founder.

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The article was written by Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher, and is the latest piece on The Intercept based off documents Edward Snowden leaked to Greenwald and other journalists.

WikiLeaks is a target of a U.S. grand jury case, though the Washington Post reported last November that the Justice Department has indicated no charges would be filed since they couldn’t prosecute without targeting other media organizations and journalists.  But the grand jury is not the only way the U.S. set its sight on WikiLeaks, which rose to prominence after they published hundreds of thousands of secret documents exposing the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and U.S. diplomatic dealings.

Greenwald and Gallagher report on three documents that show the extent of U.S. and British targeting of WikiLeaks.  They contradict the U.S. government’s insistence that they only target “terrorists” for surveillance.

One document shows that the GCHQ used its surveillance system to sweep up the IP addresses of those visiting the WikiLeaks website and the search terms people used to reach the site.  These included Americans.  “How could targeting an entire website’s user base be necessary or proportionate?” asked Gus Hosein, the head of Privacy International, in an interview with The Intercept.  “These are innocent people who are turned into suspects based on their reading habits. Surely becoming a target of a state’s intelligence and security apparatus should require more than a mere click on a link.”
piwik2 Snowden Documents Reveal Surveillance and Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks and Its Visitors

A separate file reveals how the Obama administration wanted allies like Australia and Germany to file charges against WikiLeaks for publishing the Afghan war logs, which detailed civilian deaths caused by soldiers and other aspects of the war.

A third document shows that the NSA considered designating WikiLeaks a “malicious foreign actor.”  According to The Intercept, such a designation would “have significantly expanded the agency’s ability to subject the group’s officials and supporters to extensive surveillance.

Such a designation would allow WikiLeaks to be targeted with surveillance without the use of ‘defeats’ – an agency term for technical mechanisms to shield the communications of U.S. persons from getting caught in the dragnet.”  There is no confirmation that the NSA did decide to use the designation, though.

Source: Alternet.org

​Snowden used common web crawler tool to collect NSA files

Snowden web crawler ​Snowden used common web crawler tool to collect NSA files

Whistleblower Edward Snowden used “inexpensive” and “widely available” software to gain access to at least 1.7 million secret files, The New York Times reported, quoting senior intelligence officials investigating the breach.
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The collection process was “quite automated,” a senior intelligence official revealed. Snowden used “web crawler” software to “search, index and back up” files. The program just kept running, as Snowden went about his daily routine.

“We do not believe this was an individual sitting at a machine and downloading this much material in sequence,” the official said.

Investigators concluded that Snowden’s attack was not highly sophisticated and should have been easily detected by special monitors. The web crawler can be programmed to go from website to website, via embedded links in each document, copying everything it comes across.

The whistleblower managed to set the right algorithm for the web crawler, indicating subjects and how far to follow the links, according to the report. At the end of the day, Snowden was able to access 1.7 million files including documents on internal NSA networks and internal “wiki” materials, used by analysts to share information across the world.

Reportedly, Snowden had full access to the NSA’s files, as part of his job as the technology contractor in Hawaii, managing computer systems in a faraway outpost that focused on China and North Korea.

Officials added that the files were accessible because the Hawaii outpost was not upgraded with the latest security measures.

The web crawler used by Snowden was similar to, but not as advanced as the Googlebot crawler, used by Google and its search engine to access billions of websites and download their contents for fast search results.

The whistleblower did raise some flags while working in Hawaii, prompting questions about his work, but he was able to ward off criticism successfully.

“In at least one instance when he was questioned, Mr. Snowden provided what were later described to investigators as legitimate-sounding explanations for his activities: As a systems administrator he was responsible for conducting routine network maintenance. That could include backing up the computer systems and moving information to local servers, investigators were told,” according to the report.

Snowden admitted in June to taking an undisclosed number of documents, which in the last half-year have been regularly relied on by the international media for a number of high-profile reports about the US National Security Agency and its British counterpart, GCHQ. He was then granted political asylum by Russia and now resides in Moscow.

The leaks have unveiled a number of previously unreported NSA operations, including those involving dragnet surveillance programs that put the digital lives of millions, if not billions, of individuals across the world into the possession of the US government.

Source: RT

GCHQ secret unit uses DDOS attack tactics against Anonymous – Snowden leak

Anon GCHQ secret unit uses DDOS attack tactics against Anonymous – Snowden leak

British intelligence has its own hacker subdivision that uses questionable practices for hunting down enemies of the state, reveals a new leak from Edward Snowden. GCHQ is fighting Anonymous and LulzSec hacktivists with DDoS attacks and malware.
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classified document obtained by NBC News reveals that the British secret service is brandishing a cyber-sword in the guise of the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), an intelligence unit not constrained by domestic or international laws.

The JTRIG unit is staging distributed denial of service (DDoS) cyber-attacks, implanting malware to disclose identities of hackers in order to prevent their communications. JTRIG is such a secret unit that its very name has never been mentioned anywhere before.

A PowerPoint presentation prepared for a 2012 NSA conference called SIGDEV, obviously from the collection of documents from the former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, contains information about the Rolling Thunder operation against Anonymous hacktivists. JTRIG organized a DDoS attack on the internet relay chat (IRC) used by Anonymous, which reportedly resulted in 80 percent of the users quitting internet chat rooms.

The fact that the presentation was made at a conference of America’s National Security Agency is particularly interesting. It means that the NSA was informed about such governmental activities in the UK.

A DDoS attack is a criminal offence in most countries, the US and UK included. For example, in the UK a person found guilty of a cyber attack would be charged in accordance with the Computer Misuse Act, while in the US such illegal activities are prosecuted with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

Servers GCHQ secret unit uses DDOS attack tactics against Anonymous – Snowden leak

Besides that, according to cyber experts, a DDOS attack takes down an entire server, with all websites hosted on it, along with other severs operated by the same Internet Server Provider (ISP). This means that while attacking Anonymous chat rooms, JTRIG was actually disabling other web resources that had no connection to Anonymous whatsoever.

If the fact of a DDoS attack by a secret service gets some independent proof, it would mean that Britain will become the first state incriminated in staging a cyber-attack, internationally recognized as unlawful.

“Law enforcement and intelligence officials must be able to pursue individuals who are going far beyond speech and into the realm of breaking the law: defacing and stealing private property that happens to be online,” said the former head of the US National Counterterrorism Center and now an NBC News analyst Michael Leiter, noting that “there must, of course, be limitations”.

“No one should be targeted for speech or thoughts, but there is no reason law enforcement officials should unilaterally declare law breakers safe in the online environment,” said Leiter.

“Targeting Anonymous and hacktivists amounts to targeting citizens for expressing their political beliefs,”said NBC News’ Gabriella Coleman, an anthropology professor at McGill University.

In another NSA document in possession of NBC News, a JTRIG official maintains that the unit’s activities are definitely not limited to computer network protection. JTRIG is staging attacks itself, Such as “Active Covert Internet Operations” and “Covert Technical Operations”. The unit is vigorously using cyber tools to disrupt enemy communications, engaging in computer and phone jamming, breaching email accounts and conducting ‘false flag’ operations.

The Anonymous global hacker community emerged in 2011, and conducted the “Operation Payback” campaign, a series of attacks against government websites in Britain and the US in protest against the prosecution of Chelsea Manning, who handed over thousands of classified US military documents to WikiLeaks. They also attacked several financial organizations, such as credit card companies and the PayPal pay service for blocking donations support to WikiLeaks.

Source: RT

Hackers sue Merkel and entire German government over NSA spying

hackers sue german government Hackers sue Merkel and entire German government over NSA spying

Europe’s largest association of hackers has filed a criminal complaint against the German government for aiding foreign spying by NSA and GCHQ, and violating the right to citizens’ privacy, basing their case on leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
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The Chaos Computer Club (CCC) in cooperation with the International League for Human Rights (ILMR) filed the complaint with the German Federal Prosecutor General’s office on Monday.

“We accuse US, British and German secret agents, their supervisors, the German Minister of the Interior as well as the German Chancellor of illegal and prohibited covert intelligence activities, of aiding and abetting of those activities, of violation of the right to privacy and obstruction of justice in office by bearing and cooperating with the electronic surveillance of German citizens by NSA and GCHQ, ” the group saidin a statement on its website.

The CCC also called for former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to be invited to give testimony as a witness, and that he should “be provided safe passage to Germany” and “protection against extradition to the US.”

The hackers added that after Snowden’s revelations about US global spying activities they “now have certainty” that German and other foreign intelligence services have broken German criminal law.

The criminal complaint is meant to spark a “long-overdue investigation by federal prosecutors” into alleged law-breaking by government officials and foreign intelligence agencies.

“Every citizen is affected by the massive surveillance of their private communications. Our laws protect us and threaten those responsible for such surveillance with punishment. Therefore an investigation by the Federal Prosecutor General is necessary and mandatory by law – and a matter of course. It is unfortunate that those responsible and the circumstances of their crimes have not been investigated,” CCC member and attorney Julius Mittenzwei said on the group’s website.

The group accused government offices of being unwilling to help investigate the crimes, adding that CCC and the ILHR wanted “to bring to light more information about the illegal activities of German and foreign secret services” and bring the offenders “to account.”

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office is to process the complaint and consider whether to open a criminal investigation.

Steffen Seibert, the spokesman for Chancellor Merkel, declined to give a detailed comment, saying only that “everyone in Germany can file a criminal complaint,” AP reported.

2letter Hackers sue Merkel and entire German government over NSA spying

The documents leaked by Snowden have revealed that the NSA intercepted millions of phone calls, text messages, emails and internet chat comments by German citizens without any legal authorization. In October, a new report based on Snowden’s documents revealed that the US intelligence agency also tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal phone.

The revelations put transatlantic ties “to the test,” Merkel said last November, demanding that the US give an explanation. Washington, however, claimed that the surveillance was carried out to prevent threats to national security.

In January, US President Barack Obama said his government would “continue to gather information about the intentions” of foreign governments. However, he also promised the NSA “will not monitor the communications of heads of state” in allied countries, unless there were compelling national security reasons to do so.

Since August, Berlin and Washington have been negotiating a no-spying bilateral agreement, though the governments have not yet been able to reach a deal.

Source: RT

Future of the internet could depend on Lavabit appeal

email Future of the internet could depend on Lavabit appeal

Lawyers for Lavabit, a recently-shuttered email service once used by Edward Snowden, told a federal appeals court this week that the government had no reason to request from the company a code that could unlock the encrypted messages of its 410,000 users.
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Starting last June, Lavabit owner Ladar Levison unwittingly became entwined in a complicated legal case when the Federal Bureau of Investigation obtained a pen register order requiring him to let the FBI install a wiretap device on his servers to record and store information about one of his company’s nearly half-a-million customers, widely presumed to be the now-notorious former intelligence contractor. And although much of the ordeal is to this day still under seal, on Tuesday his attorneys argued publically before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia that a civil contempt order waged against Levison should be rejected because the government unjustly compelled him to surrender his website’s master encryption keys.

Because the customer in question had opted-in to Lavabit’s encrypted email function, the information sought by the government was impossible to acquire using ordinary methods. Levison complied with the pen register order nonetheless, but the metadata being logged by the FBI proved to be unusable and quickly prompted them to demand the SSL (Secure Socket Layer) keys that encrypted all data going in and out of the website’s servers. The architecture of the SSL protocol as well as his nature of the custom-built site made it arguably impossible for Levison to provide unencrypted data using just a standard wiretap, but because the FBI’s request also provided he furnish the government with the “technical assistance necessary” to fulfil their demands, the government said he’d have to surrender the SSL keys as well and in turn compromise the privacy of each and every user.

When the pen register wouldn’t work, the feds returned with a subpoena for the keys. And when Levison didn’t immediately comply, they came back with a search warrant. Levison’s lawyers are now fighting to appeal the lawfullness of those requests for the keys by saying they were not valid.

“[T]o comply with the government’s subpoena would have either required Lavabit to perpetrate a fraud on its customer base or shut down entirely. That is the key point, and the resulting harm goes far beyond a mere inconvenient search for records,” his counsel claimed when the appeal was first filed in October.“The Fourth Amendment insists that a warrant name particular things to be searched; a warrant that permits open-ended rummaging through all of Lavabit’s communications data is simply a modern-day writ of assistance, the sort of general warrant that the Fourth Amendment was ratified to forbid,”

An earlier offer made by Levison to personally log data about that particular target should have sufficed, his attorneys said during oral arguments Tuesday, and the FBI should have been satisfied with that option without effectively compromising the privacy of all Lavabit customers by having a federal judge demand the SSL keys.

“The offer was basically, ‘I will record this data. I have a tool that can transmit it to your servers and I can do it either at the end of the period or so that it’s more frequent then that,’” Lavabit attorney Ian Samuel recalled in court this week. “The company in this case offered the United States all of the information that the United States was seeking — all of it — and it did it in a way that would have protected the privacy of hundreds of thousands of innocent people as well,” he said.

But “That isn’t what they were ordered to provide,” one judge responded. “They were ordered to install a pen register and a tracking device which provided unencrypted data.” Levison agrees that this means giving up the SSL keys, but at what cost? When his attorney time and time again argued that sacrificing the keys would render the whole site insecure, Judges Paul V. Niemeyer, Roger L. Gregory and G. Steven Agee appeared befuddled by the technological aspects involved, and along with lawyers representing both Lavabit and the government struggled to make sense of the science behind intercepting encrypted emails.

“I’m no technologist, your honor,” attorney Andrew Peterson for the government admitted at one point, later claiming he could only “assume” that it was possible for Lavabit to decrypt data in real-time to be logged on-the-fly by the FBI — which tech experts dispute.

Levison eventually relinquished to the government’s requests for his site’s SSL keys while the first of the now-ongoing Snowden leaks began to surface, but only after several weeks of a back-and-forth with investigators that ended with him being fined $10,000 and the court claiming he was in contempt for not cooperating sooner. When he eventually complied with their requests last August, Levison immediately shut-down his site to protect the privacy of his customers whose accounts had been compromised by giving up the keys. A gag-order in place at the time prevented him from disclosing even the existence of the investigation to his customers, though, and instantly he eroded access to the accounts of each and every one of his customers to, as he put it then, avoid being complicit in “crimes against the American people.”

The civil contempt order lobbed at Levison for failing to initially provide that assistance is what is now before the Fourth Circuit, but the other, much greater underlying issues at hand, may never be resolved in a court of law. When Samuel raised the issue of protecting the privacy of Lavabit’s entire client base repeatedly during Tuesday’s meeting, the appellate judges routinely said that wasn’t at issue.

“We’re only here,” Judge Leon said at one point, “because of [Lavabit’s] refusal to do what the initial request was — which was the pen register. The encryption key became a red herring.”

“There is such willingness and a desire to argue about secret keys being provided,” another judge added,“…and the government’s going to take full advantage of that and spy on everybody. What was ordered here was with respect to a particular target to provide unencrypted data pursuant to that order.”

“And even when they asked for the key,” the court claimed at one point, “they only wanted to use it and were only authorized to use it in connection with a particular target.”

As evident by what has become routine news articles as of late, though, Lavabit’s fear about government surveillance is indeed a legitimate one. Disclosures about the National Security Agency’s contentious operations continue to surface more than seven months after Mr. Snowden’s first revelations, and a recent story about a former competitor has revealed that very recently the US government relied on a court order to collect emails used later in unrelated investigations. As RT reported last week, the FBI seized all servers used by the company TorMail in 2013 pursuant to a separate investigation overseas. When the government wanted to get a copy of a single TorMail customer’s emails several months later, they didn’t bother to ask the company — they just had a judge allow them to search the trove of messages they had already taken into possession.

Lavabit now has the unique opportunity to establish a precedent to determine what the FBI can and can’t order an internet company to do, but those following the case closely fear this week’s comments from the court suggest the Department of Justice isn’t quite ready to weigh in on such matters.

“As this case unfortunately demonstrates, our judicial system is not always well-suited to addressing complex, cutting-edge technical issues,” Brian Hauss of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project told RT’s Andrew Blake this week. “Judges, of course, work very diligently to educate themselves about the disputes they are called upon to resolve, but without a technical background it is often difficult to sensibly address the important technical issues that are now coming before our courts.”

Chris Soghoian, the principal technologist at the same ACLU office, tweeted on Thursday that Tuesday’s oral arguments were “terrifying,” and that “The court desperately needed to hear from someone technical.”

Norwegian MPs nominate Snowden for Nobel Peace Prize

snowden Norwegian MPs nominate Snowden for Nobel Peace Prize

Edward Snowden has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by two Norwegian lawmakers, who say the NSA whistleblower contributed to “transparency and global stability” by revealing the depth and sophistication of the global surveillance apparatus.
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Snorre Valen and Baard Vegar Solhjell, parliamentarians from Norway’s Socialist Left Party, announced the nomination on Facebook on Wednesday.

Noting that “peace is more than simply the absence of war,” the MPs said that Snowden had contributed to global security by revealing “the nature and technological prowess of modern surveillance.”

“The level of sophistication and depth of surveillance that citizens all over the world are subject to, has stunned us, and stirred debate all over the world. By doing this, he has contributed critical knowledge about how modern surveillance and intelligence directed towards states and citizens is carried out,” a statement by the Norwegian MPs said.

The legislators said Snowden’s leaks may have damaged the security interests of several nations in the short-term, noting they do not necessarily support or condone all of the former NSA contractor’s disclosures.

“We are, however, convinced that the public debate and changes in policy that have followed in the wake of Snowden’s whistle-blowing has contributed to a more peaceful, stable and peaceful world order.”

Each year the Norwegian Nobel Committee invites ‘qualified people’ from national assemblies and governments, courts, universities and former laureates to submit nominations.

The deadline to nominate candidates for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize is Saturday. The winner is announced on the second Friday of October each year.

In October, a group of US whistleblowers presented Snowden with the Sam Adams Award for ‘Integrity in Intelligence’ in Moscow, where the former NSA was granted temporary asylum.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who was present at the ceremony, told RT the award “is a candlestick holder for someone, who has shone bright light into dark corners.”

In July, the German branch of Transparency International also awarded Snowden its Whistleblower Award. That same month, a Swedish sociology professor also nominated NSA leaker Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize for his “heroic effort at great personal cost.”

Professor Stefan Svallfors said giving Snowden the Nobel nod could “save the prize from the disrepute incurred by the hasty and ill-conceived decision” to give the 2009 award to Barack Obama.

In 2013, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) “for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.” OPCW inspectors entered Syria on October 1 to help implement a last minute plan hammered out by the United States and Russia which saw Syrian President Bashar Assad agree to destroy his chemical weapons stockpiles in order to avert US-led military strikes in the country.

The Nobel Committee received far more criticism the previous year by opting to grant the European Union the peace prize “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”

Source: RT

Snowden can extend his asylum every year – lawyer

snowden extend asylum lawyer0.si Snowden can extend his asylum every year – lawyer

Though Edward Snowden’s temporary political asylum in Russia is set to expire in August, his lawyer says the NSA whistleblower has the right to extend his status every year until he is eligible for citizenship.

Snowden will make up his mind very soon, his legal representative in Russia, Anatoly Kucherena, told Kommersant newspaper.
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Meanwhile, a top Russian lawmaker has indicated that Russia will most likely extend Snowden’s asylum. “He will not be sent out of Russia,” Aleksey Pushkov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of Russia’s lower house of Parliament, said Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “It will be up to Snowden,” The New York Times quoted him as saying.

Kucherena did not rule out that Snowden will apply for an extension of his asylum and maybe even seek Russian citizenship in the future.

In an article published by The New Yorker earlier this week, Snowden dismissed as “absurd” accusations from US lawmakers that he might have spied on behalf of Russia when taking troves of classified US government documents. Snowden insisted that he “clearly and unambiguously acted alone, with no assistance from anyone, much less a government.”

Snowden asked why he would have initially fled to Hong Kong and why was he “stuck in the airport forever” – in reference to the forty days he spent stranded in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport – if he was a spy. “Spies get treated better than that,” he said.

Snowden’s statement follows accusations made by the chairs of both the House and Senate intelligence committees last Sunday, which insinuated that he might have collaborated with Russia’s special services.

Speaking to RT earlier this week, Kucherena dismissed any accusations against his client, stressing that he has spent a lot of time with Snowden since June of last year and would have been aware if he had cooperated with the Russian government.

But I assure everyone that all day-to-day issues, housing rental etc. – all these questions he resolves himself or with my help.”

The lawyer reminded that Snowden recently obtained a job after spending nearly all of his savings.

“So in this case I cannot say that there is any government involvement, because there is none. His life is modest.”

Source: RT