Alan West, a former first sea lord and security said the ex-National Security Agency (NSA) worker had made the UK public less safe as a result of the revelations he made about government-level monitoring of online communications.
His comments come after Snowden appeared on US television show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, a British comedian, and was pressed on whether he had read each of the thousands of files he released.
When asked “how many of those documents have you actually read?” Snowden replied: “I’ve evaluated all the documents that are in the archive.”
As Oliver pressed him, he said “I do understand what I turned over,” before admitting “I recognise the concern” about his and the media’s competency in handling the documents.
Oliver cited one example in which the New York Times published a slide with sensitive information relating to al-Qaeda, which Snowden admitted was a “fuck up”, but defended journalists, saying that many had taken “extraordinary” measures to be responsible with the data.
However, West said: “Since the revelations of the traitor Snowden, terrorist groups have changed how they communicate and talk to each other.
“His actions have made us all less safe. No doubt people will die who would not have died had he not been so irresponsible.”
Robin Simcox of the Henry Jackson Society said: “Snowden stole a huge amount of sensitive documents an as a result terrorists and other serious criminals have adapted their methods accordingly.”
Snowden was a contractor working in Hawaii for the NSA when he became uncomfortable with the level of intrusion that the agency and its foreign counterparts, including Britain’s GCHQ, were making into the lives of innocent civilians.
After raising the alarm with his superiors, he decided to blow the whistle and stole tens of thousands of classified files with the intention of showing them to the world.