Spies are worried that infamous leaker Edward Snowden could be sitting on a "doomsday" cache of encrypted, classified material — which could reveal the identities of secret operatives around the world.
Sources discussing the matter with Reuters, in an exclusive report, said that the cache likely has documents generated by both the United States' National Security Agency and other bodies, and may include the names of both US and foreign intelligence personnel.
The data, however, is not a walk in the park to access: multiple passwords in the possession of at least three different people are needed to open it, and the information is available for only a brief period of time each day.
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Some theorize that Snowden has kept back the potentially explosive data as an "insurance" policy which will help him avoid being arrested or harmed, writes Reuters. He has sought out asylum in Russia, with the blessing of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Snowden's revelations to date include the massive reach of the NSA's surveillance of US communications. Surveillance was not limited to domestic turf: the Snowden data has recently caused political tension with allies in Europe, Latin America and Asia, after it was revealed that the US had been spying on foreign diplomats and even heads of state.
The repercussions of the leaks were so huge that National Security Agency director Gen. Keith Alexander offered to resign when the data was first released in June of this year, according to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal. The Obama administration apparently declined.
Snowden continues to draw both criticism and praise from around the world — most recently from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, who called him a "hero" in an interview with Al Jazeera.
"It’s difficult to have a judgement in such a short period of time on a person I don’t know, and where we don’t know what might appear in the future," said Wales.
"But, given everything that I know today, he is a hero. He is a person that has been very careful in the materials that he has leaked, they have been in the abstract, he has never leaked anything that would put any particular agents at risk and so forth. He has exposed what I believe to be, very likely to be judged, criminal wrongdoing, lying to Congress and certainly a shock and an affront, in America, an affront to the 4th amendment.
"I think that history will judge him very favorably."