Whistleblower Edward Snowden’s book earnings should go to U.S. government, court rules

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is entitled to more than $5.2 million from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s book royalties, a federal court ruled this week, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

In a statement, the department said the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Tuesday also ruled in favor of setting up a trust for the government for any future earnings from Snowden’s book, which had been the subject of a federal lawsuit.

A lawyer for Snowden did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In September 2019, the U.S. government sued Snowden, who resides in Russia, over his publication of “Permanent Record”, a book which the United States says violated non-disclosure agreements he signed when working for both NSA and the Central Intelligence Agency.

The United States alleges that Snowden published the book without first submitting it to U.S. agencies for pre-publication review, in violation of agreements he signed when working for the agencies. U.S. authorities did not seek to block publication of Snowden’s book but rather to seize all proceeds.

Last December, a federal court in Virginia found that Snowden did breach his obligations to the CIA and NSA but reserved judgment on possible remedies. In an order issued on Tuesday, the court entered a judgment in the U.S. government’s favor for more than $5.2 million.

The civil litigation over the book is separate from criminal charges prosecutors filed against Snowden under a 1917 U.S. espionage law.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Mark Hosenball, Editing by Franklin Paul and Lisa Shumaker)

Reports: U.S., British spies hacked Israeli air force

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The United States and Britain have monitored secret sorties and communications by Israel’s air force in a hacking operation dating back to 1998, according to documents attributed to leaks by former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Israel voiced disappointment at the disclosures, which were published on Friday in three media outlets and might further strain relations with Washington after years of feuding over strategies on Iran and the Palestinians.

Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth daily said the U.S. National Security Agency, which specializes in electronic surveillance, and its British counterpart GCHQ spied on Israeli air force missions against the Palestinian enclave Gaza, Syria and Iran.

The spy operation, codenamed “Anarchist”, was run out of a Cyprus base and targeted other Middle East states too, it said. Its findings were mirrored by stories in Germany’s Der Spiegel news magazine and the online publication The Intercept, which lists Snowden confidant Glenn Greenwald among its associates.

“This access is indispensable for maintaining an understanding of Israeli military training and operations and thus an insight to possible future developments in the region,” The Intercept quoted a classified GCHQ report as saying in 2008.

That year, Israel went to war against Hamas guerrillas in Gaza and began issuing increasingly vocal threats to attack Iranian nuclear facilities if it deemed international diplomacy insufficient to deny its arch-foe the means of making a bomb.

Asked for comment, the United States and Britain said through spokespeople for their embassies in Israel that they do not publicly discuss intelligence matters.


Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet, sought to play down the potential damage but said lessons would be learned.

“I do not think that this is the deepest kingdom of secrets, but it is certainly something that should not happen, which is unpleasant,” he told Israel’s Army Radio. “We will now have to look and consider changing the encryption, certainly.”

With the Netanyahu government and Obama administration at loggerheads over the U.S.-led nuclear agreement with Iran, there have been a series of high-profile media exposes in recent months alleging mutual espionage between the allies.

Israel insists that it ceased such missions since it ran U.S. Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard as an agent in the 1980s.

“We know that the Americans spy on the whole world, and also on us, also on their friends,” Steinitz said. “But still, it is disappointing, inter alia because, going back decades already, we have not spied nor collected intelligence nor hacked encryptions in the United States.”

The Intercept report included what it said were images of armed Israeli drones hacked from onboard cameras’ live feeds.

Israel neither confirms nor denies having armed drones, though one of its senior military officers was quoted as acknowledging their existence in a 2010 U.S. diplomatic cable that was previously disseminated by WikiLeaks.

Yedioth said that the hacking revelations could hurt Israeli drone sales to Germany should Berlin worry about the aircraft networks’ security. But Steinitz brushed off that possibility.

“Every country carries out its own encryption,” he said.

Germany said on January 12 it would lease Heron TP drones from state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Edward Snowden Claims Smartphones can Easily be Hacked

Whistleblower Edward Snowden rocked the world when he called out the actions of the NSA, but he now has new revolutionary information: UK spy agency GCHQ has the ability to hack into smartphones with encrypted text messages, and the owner would never know.

In an interview with the BBC’s Panorama program, he stated that the GCHQ “invested heavily” into technology that allows them to hack smartphones belonging to the public. The agency could gain access to the phones to take pictures and listen in to conversations.

“They want to own your phone instead of you,” he explained.

Snowden went on to explain that the GCHQ had a collection of secret intercept capabilities called a “Smurf Suite,” named after the cartoon series. Each “Smurf” controls a different aspect of the phone.

“Dreamy Smurf is the power management tool which means turning your phone on and off with you knowing,” he said.

“Nosey Smurf is the ‘hot mic’ tool. For example if it’s in your pocket, [GCHQ] can turn the microphone on and listen to everything that’s going on around you – even if your phone is switched off because they’ve got the other tools for turning it on.

“Tracker Smurf is a geo-location tool which allows [GCHQ] to follow you with a greater precision than you would get from the typical triangulation of cellphone towers.”

In order to hack the smartphone, the GCHQ sends a simple text message that is hidden from the owner. That text contains an exploit that allows the agency to control the software of the smartphone.

“You paid for [the phone] but whoever controls the software owns the phone,” Snowden added.

Facebook Privacy Concern for EU Citizen Continues

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The European Union’s (EU) highest court gave their opinion on a security matter concerning Facebook handing over user data of EU citizens to United States officials. The opinion of the European Court of Justice ruled that the data sharing rules between Europe and the U.S. were “invalid.”

An agreement was reached in 2000 between Europe and the U.S. allowing tech firms to transfer user data in huge quantities to U.S. servers. However, the court believes the deal is no longer valid due to recent allegations of mass spying by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The case was brought forward by activist and Austrian law student Max Schrems. Schrems was concerned with how his personal data could be transferred to the U.S. through Facebook. To illustrate the problem, he used documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

“This finding, if confirmed by the court, would be a major step in limiting the legal options for U.S. authorities to conduct mass surveillance on data held by EU companies, including EU subsidiaries of U.S. companies,” Schrems said in a statement.

A final ruling is expected later this year. If ruled in favor of Schrems, Facebook’s European branch in Ireland “would be barred from processing its data in the U.S., but would have to process its data in a place where those data are not subject to NSA mass-surveillance,” Herwig Hofmann, a lawyer representing Schrems, told reporters.

Facebook continues to state that have broken no laws and are in complete compliance with the EU Data Protection Law.

“We have repeatedly said that we do not provide ‘backdoor’ access to Facebook servers and data to intelligence agencies or governments,” said Facebook spokeswoman Sally Aldous.

The case is: C-362/14, Maximillian Schrems v. Data Protection Commissioner.

NSA Planning New Cyber Defense System Called “MonsterMind”

The National Security Agency has a massive new program called “MonsterMind” that is aimed to be a main cyberweapon for the defense of America’s computer networks.

The revelation came from fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden in one of his first major public magazine interviews.

The interview, which will appear in the September issue of Wired magazine, has Snowden revealing that the program will not only capture all communications coming into the United States but that it could also mislead defense forces seeking out cybercriminals.

“You could have someone sitting in China, for example, making it appear that one of these attacks is originating in Russia,” Snowden said. “And then we end up shooting back at a Russian hospital. What happens next?”

Snowden said that what the NSA calls “analyzing traffic flows” means they’re spying on everyone.

“If we’re analyzing all traffic flows, that means we have to be intercepting all traffic flows,” he said. “That means violating the Fourth Amendment, seizing private communications without a warrant, without probable cause or even a suspicion of wrongdoing. For everyone, all the time.”

Wired magazine had traveled to Moscow for the interview that took place as Snowden was being given a three-year extension of his asylum.

The NSA would not respond to Snowden’s claims, telling Fox “”If Mr. Snowden wants to discuss his activities, that conversation should be held with the U.S. Department of Justice.  He needs to return to the United States to face the charges against him.”

NSA Director Says Snowden Leaks Could Lead To Deaths

In the latest salvo regarding the spying on ordinary Americans by the National Security Agency, the head of that group is saying that soldier’s lives will be put in danger if more documents are released to the public.

General Keith Alexander told Fox News that his “greatest concern” was the possible loss of life because of Snowden’s actions.

Gen. Alexander said the NSA has a “good assessment” of the remaining documents that Snowden stole before he fled to Russia and that many of those documents will compromise U.S. military actions around the world.   Revealing those could put the lives of soldiers and possibly their family members in danger.

He also addressed comments from former President Jimmy Carter that he was concerned the NSA was monitoring e-mails by denying the NSA would do it.

“The reality is, we don’t do that. And if we did, it would be illegal and we’d be … held accountable and responsible,” Gen. Alexander said.

NSA Targets System Administrators to Obtain Access

The latest NSA revelation revealed they obtained access to multiple systems by targeting the system administrator for hacking and surveillance.

The document from fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA would target the personal Facebook and emails of system administrators to hack their personal computers to gain information on corporate systems.

One of the documents released was actually titled “I hunt sys admins.”

The NSA targeted more than passwords once they obtained system access.  They would obtain customer lists, network maps, business correspondence and even information described as “pictures of cats in funny poses with amusing captions.”

The document also showed the NSA targeting users of the TOR web browsing system that has higher levels of security than the normal systems.

NSA Used False Facebook Page To Plant Malware

The latest release from fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden shows that the National Security Agency used a website that looked almost identical to Facebook as a way to plant malware on computers.

The deception was part of a program codenamed TURBINE that would plant malware on computers allowing the NSA access to the computer’s microphone and camera without the user’s knowledge.

The report said that as many as 100,000 computers worldwide have been infected with the NSA’s spying software using the false Facebook page.

In addition to allowing video and audio surveillance of the computer user, the NSA would be able to track internet browsing history, login details and passwords for websites, keystrokes by the users and could corrupt files on the user’s system.

The report says the system is so sophisticated that many people will never be able to spot the fake website.

Snowden Says More Spy Programs Still Unrevealed

Fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden told members of the European Parliament that many more spy operations are yet to be revealed that could show major violations of the rights of EU citizens.

Snowden said he’s going to allow the journalists to whom he’s given classified information to decide which operations are released to the public.

“I don’t want to outpace the efforts of journalists,” Snowden testified, “but I can confirm that all documents reported thus far are authentic and unmodified, meaning the alleged operations again Belgacom, SWIFT, the EU as an institution, the United Nations, UNICEF and others based on documents I have provided have actually occurred.  I expect similar operations will be revealed in the future that affect many more ordinary citizens.”

Snowden testified that he still loves the United States and that the government likely missed terror plots because they were busy collecting large amounts of information and not taking the time to monitor it all.

Snowden invoked the Boston Marathon attack in his testimony, claiming the Russians had warned U.S. intelligence about one of the bombers but the FBI did only cursory investigations.

Snowden Leaks To Severe Legislators Left “Shocked”

Representatives on the House Armed Services Committee reportedly were “shocked” by the amount of information the NSA fugitive leaker Edward Snowden released beyond the NSA’s surveillance program.

Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas said that the information given in the meeting of the panel’s Intelligence, Emergency Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee was “very highly classified” and thus it could not be discussed in public.  However, Rep. Thornberry said the lawmakers “left the briefing disturbed and angered.”

Rep. Thornberry said that the information released by Snowden “went well beyond programs associated with the NSA and data collection.”

Rep. Buck McKeon of California said that he would have to later release a statement because of his anger after hearing the news.

“Ed Snowden isn’t a whistleblower,” Rep. McKeon said.  “He’s a traitor.”