Security

Former KGB general: Snowden is cooperating with Russian intelligence

Above: Russia's FSB is the successor to the old KGB.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden probably never envisioned that he’d someday be working for the Russian federal security service, or FSB.

But according to former KGB Major General Oleg Kalugin, he is now, albeit as a consultant or technical advisor.

“These days, the Russians are very pleased with the gifts Edward Snowden has given them. He’s busy doing something. He is not just idling his way through life.”

“The FSB are now his hosts, and they are taking care of him,” Kalugin boldly claimed in an interview with VentureBeat.

The 80 year-old retired Soviet intelligence officer is Russian spy royalty personified. At 34, he became the youngest KGB general in history, and Kalugin famously helped run Soviet spy operations in America during a career that spanned over three decades.


 

READ MORE: Former NSA director: ‘I would lose all respect for Russia

if they haven’t fully exploited Snowden’


Kalugin and his wife relocated to Maryland after falling out of favor with the Russian regime in the 1990s. After becoming a vocal critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin (Kalugin called Putin a war criminal for his second invasion of Chechnya), a warrant was issued for his arrest. He’s been in the U.S. ever since.

Kalugin still has juice within Russian intelligence circles and maintains contacts with friends in Russia from his days as a Soviet spy. Kalugin teaches at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies and also sits on the advisory board for the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.

Oleg Kalugin

Above: Oleg Kalugin

Image Credit: Courtesy the International Spy Museum

Back in Russia, according to Kalugin, Snowden is being handled by the FSB, the KGB’s successor. Kalugin claims that Snowden has shared much of his vast trove of secrets about the NSA with his Russian hosts, and in the process, has allegedly handed the FSB one of their biggest intelligence hauls and propaganda coups since the end of the Cold War.

This claim echoes early warnings from congressman Michael McCaul, senator Dianne Feinstein, lieutenant general Michael Flynn, and congressman Mike Rogers, yet no concrete evidence proves that such an exchange took place. Snowden has consistently denied claims that he took security documents with him to Russia.

“Whatever he had access to in his former days at NSA, I believe he shared all of it with the Russians, and they are very grateful,” Kalugin claims.

It has been over a year since Snowden downloaded thousands of top secret NSA documents from his stint as a NSA contractor and traveled first to Hong Kong from his home in Hawaii. He arrived in Moscow August 1 after he failed to gain asylum in 30 other countries.

Snowden’s leaks revealed the NSA’s efforts to turn Facebook into a surveillance machine, the agency’s close ties with Google, and the theft of private user data from firms like Yahoo and Apple. In the wake of these revelations, many of the tech industry’s most powerful firms have frantically adopted new security protocols at unprecedented speeds.

Snowden shared his haul with security journalist Glenn Greenwald and other media outlets, like the Washington Post and Germany’s Der Spiegel, shedding unprecedented light on the prodigious intelligence gathering programs of his former employer and sending shockwaves around the world.

Greenwald, who lives in Brazil but is currently traveling in the U.S., did not return emails for comment.

The Snowden debacle happened on the watch of Army general and former NSA Director Keith Alexander, who retired from the agency last year after running it for eight years. Alexander declined comment for this article.

A spokesman for Alexander explained in a polite email to VentureBeat:

We appreciate that you have reached out to us. General Alexander is focused now on building a new business and not doing any interviews on Snowden or other subjects. So for now we are going to pass.

These days, exile in Russia means Snowden, 30, has lots of time on his hands. A source in Moscow with connections to Russian intelligence said the American is believed to be living, at least part time, in a dacha 70 miles south of Moscow in an FSB retirement community reserved for favored cadres.

“He has lots of free time. He doesn’t need to go into the office anymore,” Kalugin said.

Snowden’s location could not be independently confirmed.

While free to leave Russia, Kalugin claims Snowden’s whereabouts are monitored by his FSB handlers, who allegedly control his spending budget and watch over whom he talks with.

In Kalugin’s view, Snowden is guilty of treason.

“Of course he is, by American standards. Snowden is a traitor,” Kalugin said. “When someone changes sides and goes over to the other side, it’s a victory,” he said.

While Snowden is a traitor to some — like Bill Gates — and a hero to others — like Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak and Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, former NSA spook Adam Fuchs was more circumspect when it came to calling him a Benedict Arnold.

Snowden was in a position where he really understood all of the compliance requirements that were in place and all of the restrictions that were in place, and yet he decided to go outside the established channels.

Snowden’s value to his Russian handlers has not totally run its course, claims Kalugin, and the FSB will allegedly use him as a technical consultant and advisor on topics that interest them. His travel in the country also may be coordinated by the FSB, Kalugin said.

But the former KGB general believes that if he wants to, Snowden will have little trouble integrating himself into Russian culture and digging in for the long haul.

“He is not being left alone obviously. The Russians are trying their best to be hospitable,” Kalugin said.

“At this point,” said Kalugin, who has written three books on his 34 years in Soviet intelligence, “the reception in Russia for him has been exceptionally friendly.”

“And I’m sure that Snowden is enjoying it.”

More information:

Edward Snowden is an American former technical contractor for the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) who leaked details of several top-secret U.S. and British gov... read more »

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140 comments
rixstep
rixstep

@MeaganMacha Meh. 's too smart to take anything with him. And traveling with nada, he's of no use to anyone. They gain more online.

Sergey Belov
Sergey Belov

Because thats the type of message the main stream outlet would write of Snowden. Besides, Kalugin did not support his opinion with any facts but rather used his own dated experience. This makes the article biased to an anti-Snowden propaganda and nothing more.

Harrison Weber
Harrison Weber

What was biased about this article? It's a report, based on the claims of a public figure. These are allegations which I consider worth sharing.

Kirill Elizarov
Kirill Elizarov

It very likely seems that some substantial money were thrown in middle size U.S. based media online outlets for whitewashing Kremlin's policy, its people and for besmirching some personalities...

Tim Dick
Tim Dick

Russian propaganda worked perfectly on VB who will do anything (link bait) to sell an ad.

Philip G. Bokan
Philip G. Bokan

i hope he returns. public execution would be fitting for snowden.

Art Vuilleumier
Art Vuilleumier

Purely a propaganda piece and poorly written to boot ! Clearly an attempt to besmirch Snowden ...

Manish Patel
Manish Patel

He was never in SF. He broke his legs in training. Get you facts straight. People who think he's a hero are nuts. He did not save a single civilian life and perhaps compromised countless intelligence officers lives and look where he ends up!!!! Russia. Yes Russia. The bastion of human rights and freedom. NOT! Snowden apologist get your heads out of the ground or wherever else they are.

Griffin de Luce
Griffin de Luce

"In Kalugin’s view, Snowden is guilty of treason." [A former Russian spymaster exiled from his country calls a young American guy who broke both legs in the Army Special Forces and sacrificed his home, livelihood, family and future to defend the constitution, treasonous. Uh, right.] ... "“Of course he is, by American standards. Snowden is a traitor,” Kalugin said. “When someone changes sides and goes over to the other side, it’s a victory,” he said." [γνῶθι σεαυτόν]

Marc Mackenzie
Marc Mackenzie

Yes im sure a traitor to the kgb...has the inside scoop. Stick to tech.

Heni Goutal
Heni Goutal

Sergey is right ,stop youre fucking american propaganda and let's talk about Tech, Snowden is a great guy.

Alex Redman
Alex Redman

Wow. Using snowden as an excuse for what the US is planning with russia. Interesting!

Sergey Belov
Sergey Belov

What a shitty and biased article. It has no substance whatsoever. Who is Kalugin today anyway? Maybe he was a spy some 50 years ago, but then he fled to the US and sits there barking at a foreign to him government. I wished VentureBeat would focus on the tech news more and stayed out of politics.

Dmitri Saveliev
Dmitri Saveliev

I've always had huge respect for people who can put their own interests at risk standing up for principles, like him. Because not a lot of people can do so.

Martin L. Burger
Martin L. Burger

So the media machine is working... Or do U have other reasons?

Martin L. Burger
Martin L. Burger

Spot On, where's the details??? No more one line sounds bites for an emotional reaction. But that's how stupid people fall in line.

Joshua Darlington
Joshua Darlington

He is a hero in a way or a routine stock character of the 21st century where leaks can and will happen all the time. If the NSA is not prepared for this, shame on them. Really they should have at least three approaches to every task which is classic military org camouflage. So those trying to anticipate NSA have to guess.

Marc Mackenzie
Marc Mackenzie

A former kgb officer...that defected..should deffinitly be belived [/sarc]

Dlllinger
Dlllinger

@6 you're a snitch, you know that right?

Neeraj Shukla
Neeraj Shukla

Yes. Because if you are taking an asshole org, there migt be unknown consequences. But that does not mean that he is not a hero.

Shad Rack
Shad Rack

What choice does he really have at this point? His own government will lynch him and he has no safe passage elsewhere. Love him or hate him we would not be having the discussions we are without his leaks. Business as usual otherwise. Bush and Obama have proven to be birds of the same flock on privacy rights and the 4th amendment. They are both Constitution meh, never heard of it. Offer the man a fair trial in the court of law. None of this enemy combatant US law does not apply crap.

Mike Sp
Mike Sp

Traitor talks about a traitor)

Eric Chan
Eric Chan

Whether you like him or not, or agree or disagree with his actions or not, he forever changed the way NSA operate, and limited their power from growing. He brought NSA into the spotlight, and generated heated discourse. Changes are already made to limit their reach. That was his goal and he accomplished it. What exactly has he done to make America less safe? Let's bring up some numbers and facts to the table and not conjectures and assumptions. Cooperating with the Russians you say? In what way? Let's get into specifics please. You guys do know that Snowden will never carry the secrets with him. There's this thing called Bittorent. Putin will never arrest him because he's a international figure. If any of you have any IQ, you will know that.

Alex Garcia
Alex Garcia

I think he's stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Wendy Sue Buckleman
Wendy Sue Buckleman

Corporate People like him are going to just sit around making a mess wherever they are. His misleading pile of CAW,CAW was so humorously an Industrial plot, to hide the International Corporate Espionage Industry, I can't really think of any people better to have him in their clutches when it dawns on them.

MeaganMacha
MeaganMacha

@rixstep It's a bullshit story concocted by a Russian traitor and CIA mole, Kalugin...

vpkivimaki
vpkivimaki

@mikk0j You mean Russo-Сноуден liberating Russian intel infra secrets? Think they're keeping a close eye on siloviki now...