Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The U.S. government has reached an agreement with
leading Internet companies that would allow them to reveal more details about online
data collected by government agencies. The deal marked the latest move aimed at
easing public distrust of the controversial surveillance programs of the U.S. National
Security Agency (NSA).
The agreement would allow Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Yahoo to
disclose more aggregate information about how many information requests they
received from the government and how many customer accounts had been affected
under NSA’s mass surveillance programs, the U.S. Justice Department said.
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Newscast Media WASHINGTON—European lawmakers in Washington on Monday blasted the
United States in the wake of reports of massive US surveillance activities against its
allies, including alleged eavesdropping by US intelligence on German Chancellor Angela
Merkel. CONTINUE TO FULL ARTICLE>>
Newscast Media PARIS—France does not want an escalation of the row over US snooping on millions of French citizens’ telephone communications, the government’s spokesperson said Tuesday, after a breakfast meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius.
Fabius told Kerry that the snooping, which targeted politicians, businessman and individuals with no public profile, was “unacceptable between friends and allies”.
Kerry had earlier tried to defuse the row, assuring the US’s “old ally” that Washington is reviewing its information-gathering techniques, a message that US President Barack Obama repeated in a call to French President François Hollande.
But French government spokesperson Najat Vallaud-Belkacem on Tuesday seemed to indicate that Paris does not want a confrontation.
“It is up to Foreign Minister Fabius to decide what line we take but I don’t think there is any need for an escalation,” she told France 2 television. “We have to have a respectful relationship between partners, between allies. Our confidence in that has been hit but it is after all a very close, individual relationship that we have.”
Using material obtained by NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, Le Monde newspaper on Monday revealed massive interception of calls, SMS messages and keyboard strokes by the National Security Agency (NSA), which recorded more than 70 million calls in one 30-day period last year.
In further revelations on Tuesday it said that the NSA had shown particular interest in French internet provider Wanadoo and communications giant Alcatel-Mucent and had also spied on French embassies and France’s delegation to the UN.
The spying had helped the US obtain a vote on the UN Security Council in favor of more sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, one NSA internal note boasted. Operatives were instructed to use not just the Prism program, which was exposed by Snowden, but also Upstream, a system that intercepts communications on undersea cables and the world wide web.
The US defends its intelligence-gathering in the name of the fight against “terrorism” but Le Monde says that the “secrets of major national firms” had been probed as well. One document seen by the paper shows that between 8 February and 8 March the NSA collected 124.8 billion pieces of data on phone calls and 97.1 billion digital operations.
Source: Radio France Internationale
Newscast Media BRASILIA—Brazil’s Senate formed an Investigative Parliamentary
Commission this week to follow up on reports that the U.S. National Security Agency
(NSA) spied on President Dilma Rousseff.
“We intend to protect national sovereignty,” said Senator Vanessa Graziotin, of the
Communist Party of Brazil (CPB).
The committee, composed of 11 main members and seven substitutes, initially has
180 days to investigate claims the NSA monitored emails between Rousseff and
several of her top aides, and tapped her phone.
The investigative period can be extended by another 180 days if the commission
needs more time.
As the committee’s first order of business, members discussed the possibility of the
state providing federal protection for Rio de Janeiro-based journalist Glenn Greenwald
and his partner David Miranda, considering them to be key witnesses in the
Greenwald was the first to break the story of Washington’s global spying program,
based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Snowden,
who is wanted by the U.S. on espionage charges for revealing the surveillance
scheme, has been given temporary asylum in Russia.
Miranda was recently interrogated for nine hours at London’s Heathrow airport as he
traveled from Germany to Brazil, and had his belongings confiscated. British officials
said they were operating under an anti-terror law, but Greenwald said he believed it
was an attempt to intimidate.
The Senate’s decision to open an investigation follows the broadcast Sunday of a
Brazilian television news program reporting the NSA spied on the highest levels of
Brazil’s government, even targeting the president.
That report was also based on documents leaked by Snowden and made public by
News of NSA spying on Brazil first broke in July, when Brazil’s O Globo daily published
articles alleging the agency had monitored digital communications and phone calls.
Washington has maintained that the spy program is designed to thwart terrorism, but
Brazil says it suspects industrial espionage and has demanded an written official
response from the U.S. government by Friday.
Rousseff is reportedly considering cancelling a scheduled trip to Washington next
month if she receives no answer or an unsatisfactory explanation from the U.S.
Newscast Media AUSTIN, Texas—An encrypted email service provider reportedly used by accused US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has announced it is closing and issued a warning about the trustworthiness of US-linked companies that collect individuals’ private data.
Lavabit, a Texas-based email service that claimed to have served some 350,000 users, said in a vaguely worded statement Thursday evening that it was shuttering its operations because it did not want “to become complicit in crimes against the American people,” though it said current US laws prevented the firm from disclosing the specific events that led to his decision.
“This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States,” Lavabit founder Ladar Levison said in the statement.
Snowden, who is wanted by US authorities on espionage charges for leaking classified details of US telephone and electronic surveillance programs, received temporary asylum in Russia last week, a move that has exacerbated already frayed ties between the two countries.
Shortly after the Lavabit announcement, another US secured-communications company announced it had “preemptively” closed its email service in order to “prevent spying.”
The company, Maryland-based Silent Circle, said that it had not been contacted by US authorities but indicated that the Lavabit closure played a role in its decision to halt its email service, Silent Mail.
“We see the writing on the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail,” the company said in a blog post Friday. “We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now.”
Source: RIA Novosti
Newscast Media MOSCOW—President Barack Obama has canceled a meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow which was scheduled for September, Russia Today reported. The move comes after Russia’s recent decision to grant temporary asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
With few signs that progress would be made during the Moscow summit on this and other agenda items, officials said the president decided to cancel the talks.
“We’ll still work with Russia on issues where we can find common ground, but it was the unanimous view of the president and his national security team that a summit did not make sense in the current environment,” White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said. Rhodes also stated that the decision to grant Snowden temporary asylum within Russia’s borders “exacerbated” an already tumultuous relationship between the two nations.
Instead of visiting Putin in Moscow, Obama will add a stop in Sweden to his early September travel itinerary.
The decision follows Obama’s comments on Tuesday evening’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno that “there have been times where they slip back into Cold-War thinking and a Cold-War mentality. And what I consistently say to them, and what I say to President Putin, is that’s the past and we’ve got to think about the future, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to cooperate.”
A White House official later confirmed the cancellation of the meeting. While Snowden’s temporary residency permit is the catalyst for the summit being called off, the US cites “lack of progress” pertaining to other differences between the two countries.
Snowden, whose US passport has been revoked, was granted one year’s temporary asylum in Russia last Thursday. The whistleblower is wanted in the US on espionage charges after revealing secret NSA surveillance programs to the public. Among other issues, Russia and the US have considerable differences over the situation in Syria, with the US government determined to see President Bashar Assad ousted from his position. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees gave a green light to arm Syrian rebels at the end of July.
The last time the two leaders met was in June at the G8 Summit in Ireland. The G20 summit will be held on September 5-6, with the US deeming it sensible to still attend, as the annual gathering brings together the world’s largest economies. Obama said that it makes sense for the US to have high-level representation at the event.
Source: Al Manar TV news
Newscast Media MOSCOW—The controversy around fugitive and US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia, is not of great importance and cannot harm US-Russian relations, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.
“This issue is not important enough to affect political relations,” aide Yury Ushakov told reporters, adding that Moscow was interested in the development of ties with Washington “in all areas.”
Ushakov also said Russia was unaware of reported plans by US President Barack Obama to cancel an upcoming visit to Russia in light of the Snowden standoff.
“We know about speculations over this issue in America, but we have not received any official signals from US authorities,” Ushakov said.
The New York Times and some other US media outlets earlier reported that Obama might cancel scheduled talks with Putin in Moscow during a G20 summit in September. Snowden, who had been staying in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport since arriving from Hong Kong on June 23, reportedly left the airport on Thursday after being given an official document granting him one-year temporary asylum.
Washington had repeatedly called for Moscow to reject Snowden’s asylum request and send him back to the United States, where he is wanted on espionage and theft charges for leaking classified information about US surveillance programs that allegedly targeted millions of Americans.
Source: Ria Novosti
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russian President Vladimir Putin has said if NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is going to have a shot of gaining asylum in Russia, he’ll need to stop sharing America’s secrets. Putin also ruled out Snowden’s extradition. Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Putin said the former contractor for the American National Security Agency (NSA) would have to stop divulging secrets about the United States if he planned to stay in Russia.
“If he wants to go somewhere and there are those who would take him, he is welcome to do that,” Putin said in Moscow. “If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: he must stop his activities aimed at inflicting damage to our American partners, no matter how strange it may sound on my lips.”
A foreign ministry official quoted by the AFP news agency said Snowden had applied for asylum in Russia on Sunday night. Reports from the Russian news agency Interfax echoed this claim.
Earlier on Monday, a Russian official quoted by the RIA news agency said President Barack Obama and Putin had ordered their respective security services, the FBI and the FSB, to end the standoff over Snowden. He is currently holed up in a transit area of an airport in Moscow.
Putin said on Monday that Russia would not be extraditing Snowden. “Russia will never extradite anyone anywhere and doesn’t plan to start doing so,” he said.
Source: Radio Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The US won’t pursue extraordinary measures to detain Edward Snowden, President Obama has said. Meanwhile, pressure to refuse Snowden asylum has sparked an angry and somewhat cheeky response from Ecuadorian officials.
“I’m not going to have one case with a suspect who we’re trying to extradite suddenly be elevated to the point where I’ve got to start going wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues, simply to get a guy extradited so he can face the justice system,” Obama said while on a tour of Africa.
Several weeks ago, the former employee of the National Security Agency (NSA) allegedly leaked information about a wide-reaching surveillance program in the United States known as Prism, as well as evidence of US hacking into Chinese entities. Snowden had already fled to Hong Kong before The Guardian and Washington Post newspapers published the first revelations of Prism. Soon after US prosecutors released the charges against Snowden to the media, authorities in Hong Kong allowed him to fly to Moscow due to a discrepancy in the US warrant for his arrest.
“I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker,” Obama said, referring to Snowden, who turned 30 last week.
Despite difficulties convincing Chinese and Russian officials to extradite Snowden, Obama said he had not personally contacted the Russian or Chinese president. Law enforcement authorities generally dealt with similar cases and would do so in the apprehension of Snowden because his case was “not exceptional from a legal perspective,” the US president said.
While Obama declared Snowden unworthy of increased diplomatic tensions, Ecuador responded in part to the question of granting asylum to the alleged intelligence leaker.
Snowden had reportedly applied for safe haven in the South American country, however, Ecuador officials said they could not process his request until he reached one of its diplomatic premises, according to the news agency Reuters. The international pressure placed upon Ecuador to allow or refuse the former NSA
employee sparked an obstinate response from its officials on Thursday.
Rather than submit to the will of Washington, Quito relinquished its claim to a tariff program worth millions of dollars to the country, preferring independence, it said.
“Ecuador does not accept pressure or threats from anyone, and does not trade on principles or make them contingent on commercial interests, even if those interests are important,” Communications Minister Fernando Alvarado told reporters in Quito.
The trade deal, which is set for renewal by the US Congress and was awarded in exchange for Ecuador’s cooperation in the war on drugs, had become a “new instrument of blackmail,” said Alvarado. “In consequence, Ecuador unilaterally and irrevocably renounces [the preferential treatment.]”
Instead, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa’s government offered to pay the United States $23 million per year to finance “human rights training.”
Source: Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media MOSCOW—The United States believes that former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden is in Russia and is calling on Moscow to assess “the options available to them to expel Mr. Snowden back to the United States,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.
The announcement came just hours after Julian Assange, founder of the whistleblowing organization WikiLeaks, said Snowden was “safe and healthy” but declined to reveal his whereabouts.
“It is our understanding that Mr. Snowden remains in Russia,” Carney told a news briefing at the White House on Monday.
Carney declined to go into details about conversations between US officials and their Russian counterparts regarding Snowden’s whereabouts and the outstanding warrant for his arrest in the United States, saying only that there are communications between the two countries “at all the appropriate levels.”
Snowden is wanted by the United States for disclosing a top-secret surveillance program that allegedly targeted millions of Americans. He took a plane from Hong Kong to Moscow on Sunday accompanied by WikiLeaks representative Sarah Harrison, the organization said in a statement.
Carney repeatedly stated during the briefing that in light of US-Russian law-enforcement cooperation in the wake of the deadly Boston Marathon bombing, as well US assistance in returning “high-level criminals” to Russia, Washington hopes for Russia’s assistance in having Snowden returned to the United States.
Source: Ria Novosti
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the story about National Security Agency’s sweeping surveillance programs says more on the issue is yet to come and that the revelations only harmed “those in power who want to conceal their actions and their wrongdoing” while also foreshadowing future bombshells.
“We are going to have a lot more significant revelations that have not yet been heard over the next several weeks and months,” said Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian.
“What we disclosed was of great public interest, of great importance in a democracy that the U.S. government is building this massive spying apparatus aimed at its own population,” Greenwald said during a media appearance.
Edward Snowden, a 29-year government contractor with the NSA contacted the media and told them he had evidence of the NSA surveillance program. Snowden’s media contact was Greenwald who made the revelations after Snowden went into hiding. Snowden is believed to be somewhere in Asia.
“There are dozens of stories generated by the documents he provided, and we intend to pursue every last one of them,” Greenwald said, as he addressed the Associated Press.
In the CNN interview below, Greenwald explains how Snowden got in touch with him.