Snowden used password from NSA co-worker: report

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A civilian employee at the National Security Agency has been disciplined after admitting he gave intelligence leaker Edward Snowden his personal encryption details, NBC News reported Thursday.

The employee was among three workers at the NSA who have been sanctioned after being "implicated" in the unprecedented security breach that allowed Mr Snowden to leak a trove of classified documents, according to a memo to lawmakers cited by NBC.

The civilian employee told FBI agents that he provided Mr Snowden with his personal encryption information but was "not aware" the IT contractor planned to divulge secret files to the media, according the the NSA memorandum.

The civilian, who was not named, has been stripped of his security clearance and recently resigned, it said. The spy agency memo says that the civilian employee shared with Mr Snowden his "public key infrastructure certificate" details, part of an elaborate security system designed to safeguard intelligence computer networks.

In addition, Mr Snowden then asked the civilian to type in his password on his computer terminal, the memo said. "Unbeknownst to the civilian, Mr. Snowden was able to capture the password, allowing him even greater access to classified information," the memo states.

The account suggests Mr Snowden employed a degree of deception to get his hands on sensitive information, an allegation raised in previous media reports. But in a public Google chat in January, Mr Snowden denied media reports that he stole or deceived fellow employees to get their log-in information.

"I never stole any passwords, nor did I trick an army of co-workers," Mr Snowden said. In addition to the civilian worker, an active duty member of the military and a contractor were banned from NSA buildings in August as they are tied to actions that may have helped Mr Snowden carry out his bombshell leaks, according to the memorandum.

"Further accountability will be determined by their individual employer, not NSA," the memo said, without providing further details. The February 10 letter to the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees was described as an "update" on an internal investigation into who was responsible for the massive security breach that permitted Snowden to expose the NSA's far-reaching electronic spying.

Some lawmakers have sharply criticized the spy agency over its handling of the security breach and demanded to know why no senior figure has been sacked or held accountable over the Snowden affair.

When contacted by AFP, the NSA declined to comment on the memorandum.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.