The Pentagon is concerned that Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked the US government’s secret surveillance programs, will compromise top-secret electronic intelligence programs targeted against China, according to a defense official.
It is unclear whether officials in Hong Kong or in Russia obtained any of the classified material. But the official said it is possible Snowden may have made contact with MSS officials in Hong Kong and bartered with Chinese authorities using his access to top-secret intelligence data to avoid being sent back to the US.
The MSS, China’s top intelligence agency, is believed to have hundreds or even thousands of operatives working in Hong Kong.
A spokesman for the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, which has been assisting Snowden, strenuously denied reports that foreign governments had made copies of the documents.
A Chinese official, meanwhile, was quoted by a Hong Kong newspaper as saying the US government did not request Chinese assistance in locating and repatriating Snowden.