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US, UK officials worry Snowden still has ‘doomsday’ collection of classified material

US and British intelligence officials say they are concerned about a “doomsday” collection of highly classified, heavily encrypted materials they believe former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden may have stored away.

The cache supposedly contains documents with names of US and  allied intelligence personnel, seven current and former US  officials and other sources told Reuters.

The collection is shielded by elaborate encryption that requires  multiple passwords to open, said two of the sources, who all  spoke to Reuters anonymously.

At least three people – unknown to the sources – possess the  passwords, which are only valid for a short period each day, they  said.

Officials believe the cache would likely be stored and encrypted  apart from the rest of the material Snowden gave to news outlets.

The NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence  declined to comment on the collection.

One source saw the cache of documents as an “insurance  policy” for Snowden should he feel threatened by arrest or  other harm.

US officials and other sources say only a small portion of  classified material they believe Snowden accessed as a contract  systems administrator for the NSA has been published since the  first documents were reported by the Guardian and The Washington  Post in early June.

NSA chief Keith Alexander said this month it is believed Snowden  downloaded between 50,000 and 200,000 classified documents from  the NSA and GCHQ – the NSA’s British counterpart. At times,  Snowden used unwitting employees’ passwords and access  keys to reach documents and information he did not have  permission to see.

Cryptome, a website that published leaked secret documents years  before Wikileaks or Snowden arrived on the scene, estimates that  about 500 documents from Snowden have been made public.

“The worst is yet to come,” one former US official  familiar with the investigation said.

Snowden is living in Russia under temporary asylum. He fled there  from Hong Kong shortly after the first stories from his leaks  appeared. He has been charged in the United States under the  Espionage Act.

He has claimed neither Chinese nor Russian authorities have  had any chance to see any of the documents he downloaded since he  didn’t bring any materials with him. Though it is unknown whether  either country, in addition to the US and Britain, have any idea  where the sensitive cache is stored and, if so, whether they have  tried to unlock it.

Glenn Greenwald, one of the reporters Snowden gave NSA classified  documents to, said Snowden had “taken extreme precautions to  make sure many different people around the world have these  archives to insure the stories will inevitably be published.”

Adding merit to the suspicion that the well-secured cache may be  an insurance policy of sorts, Greenwald said in June that “if  anything happens at all to Edward Snowden, he has arranged for  them to get access to the full archives.”

He added: “I don’t know for sure whether he has more documents  than the ones he has given me… I believe he does.”

Greenwald, who has since left the Guardian for a yet-unnamed news  site financed by Silicon Valley billionaire Pierre Omidyar, told  Reuters he had nothing new to add to those statements, but  reaffirmed the “precautions” Snowden took before leaving  for Hong Kong.

Among the classified documents Snowden accessed, but not yet  published, were lists of names and resumes of NSA and GCHQ  employees, sources said.

Sources believe Snowden began downloading some of the material  from a classified GCHQ website, GC-Wiki, when he was employed by  Dell and assigned to the NSA in 2012. He moved to another  contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton, because he would have more  access to NSA data there, a source said.

No names of British intelligence officials have been published.  Once UK authorities told the Guardian it could face legal action,  the newspaper destroyed computers containing Snowden-provided  documents on GCHQ, though it did give copies of the material to  the New York Times and ProPublica.

Sources say the material Snowden took includes information,  possibly personnel names, on the CIA and other US intelligence  arms, such as the National Reconnaissance Center and the National  Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

Snowden’s revelations of vast domestic and  international surveillance and data collection by the US have  made steady news since June. In addition to many storylines  emanating from the leaks, the NSA’s alleged spying on emails and  tapping of phones of world leaders has provoked scandals between  the US and a number of countries in Europe, Latin America and  Asia.



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