US deal with Snowden possible, says ex-M15 chief

A former head of MI5 believes the US will seek a deal with whistleblower Edward Snowden in a bid to prevent him divulging more secret intelligence material.

Eliza Manningham Buller said she was opposed to the publication of files leaked by the former CIA agent because newspapers could not know what damage it had done to counter-terrorism operations.

Mr Snowden is now in Russia. The country granted him temporary asylum after he fled the US.

Asked if Mr Snowden should face prosecution, Ms Manningham Buller told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “I think what will happen actually is some kind of deal that he doesn’t release any more but I really don’t know.”

The ex-security chief said: “I do understand that there are people who think he has done a public service and who applaud him, but I can’t really be one of them because what neither The Guardian nor really anyone, including me, can judge is what damage he has done to counter-terrorism.”

It was impossible for anyone other than the security services to know what terror plots had “gone dark” as a result of the information being made public or which might “not now be investigated, not now be thwarted”, she said.

Meanwhile, a federal judge has ruled that the US phone-tracking programme is legal.

US District Judge William Pauley issued the decision in New York City yesterday. He says the programme “represents the government’s counter- punch” to eliminate al Qaeda’s terror network by connecting fragmented and fleeting communications.

The ruling notes the terrorist attacks in 2001 and how the National Security Agency’s phone data-collection system could have helped investigators connect information before the attacks occurred.

The judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU did not immediately respond to a message for comment.


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