There’s no evidence yet that former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden was working with Russian authorities when he facilitated the largest leak of classified information in history, the chair of the Senate intelligence committee said Tuesday.
“I have no information to that effect, I have never seen anything to that effect,” California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein told MSNBC’S Andrea Mitchell Tuesday. “I have asked some questions since (a prior appearance on NBC News’ Meet the Press) and nothing’s been forthcoming.”
Feinstein’s remarks are a rare split with her House intelligence committee counterpart, Michigan Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, since information from the Snowden leaks began to be published last June. Both lawmakers have been staunch supporters of the NSA’s metadata program, which gathers the time, date, duration and numbers involved in phone calls placed through American telecommunications providers. On the Jan. 19 episode of Meet the Press, Rogers alleged that Snowden had acted with the assistance of Russian authorities.
“I believe there’s questions to be answered there. I don’t think it was a gee-whiz luck event that he ended up in Moscow under the handling of the FSB (Russian Federal Security Service),” Rogers said. ”I believe there’s a reason he ended up in the hands, the loving arms, of an FSB agent in Moscow.” Among many of his critics, the theory that Snowden is a willing agent of a foreign intelligence agency has become an article of faith, even though that accusation has never been substantiated.
Snowden and his attorneys have denied any Russian involvement in his decision to carry out the leaks, describing them as an act of conscience by a whistleblower. The Obama administration has declined to comment on allegations that Snowden worked with a foreign government.
Feinstein had told NBC News’ David Gregory on Jan. 19 that she didn’t know whether Snowden had worked with a foreign government. “He may well have. We don’t know at this stage.”