He likely could’ve been working for the Russians the entire time, before the ‘scandal’ broke out.
Renegade National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has applied to join a group of former Russian intelligence and security officials, according to the group’s director.
Participation in a union of former KGB security, intelligence, and police officials, would likely change Snowden’s status from that of a whistleblower seeking to expose wrongdoing, to an intelligence defector who has changed sides.
Alexei Lobarev, chairman of the group called “Veterans of the Siloviki”—literally “men of power”—told a Russian news outlet on Monday that Snowden, who has been staying in a Moscow airport transit lounge for a month, applied for membership in the group.
The state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Wednesday that the Russian Federal Migration Service issued an official paper to Snowden that will allow him to leave the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport as part of an agreement with the Border Guard Service.
Ariel Cohen, a Russia specialist with the Heritage Foundation, said joining the former KGB officers’ group would be a significant development in the Snowden affair.
“It could be a spoof or a deliberate attempt to tarry the former NSA contractor,” Cohen said in an email. “However, if proven true, this puts Snowden squarely into the defector category. Whatever the whistleblower rhetoric—if indeed it is Snowden—the man is seeking to join a group whose livelihood was to spy on and harm, the United States. There is hardly a more anti-American group in Russia than ex-security officials. They would want nothing more than to coddle Snowden.”
Kenneth deGraffenreid, former National Security Council staff intelligence director, said Snowden’s embrace by former KGB officials is a sign the former contractor is being used as a pawn in an international program of “active measures,” political operations aimed at harming the United States.
“And the United States is apparently totally unequipped to address this threat,” deGraffenreid said in an interview, adding that he doubts that either the FBI or CIA has any counterintelligence programs designed to thwart such anti-U.S. political operations.
DeGraffenreid said Snowden, along with Army Pfc. Bradley Manning who was charged with leaking secrets to WikiLeaks, are part of a global anti-American network “that runs from Russia, to China to Iran to Venezuela to WikiLeaks and the European Union – all of whom want to do ill toward the United States.”
“Snowden is being used as a pawn in this and we have no ability, as we did during the Cold War, to conduct counter-active measures and political warfare,” he said.
Lobarev, head of the former intelligence officers’ group, told Snowden’s lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, a member of the Russian government’s President’s Human Rights Council, in a July 18 letter that Snowden formally sought membership in the group, according to the Russian business publication RBK Daily.
According to the report “veteran siloviki” want to recognize Snowden as a “colleague” who formerly worked in intelligence. Additionally, the group wants to provide humanitarian support to Snowden who has been held up in the transit zone at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.
In it, Snowden said he wanted to join the group and that he “needs protection.” The message was signed “Edward Snowden” and the message was traced to an IP address in North Carolina.
Lobarev described Snowden as a former “kollega,” a term in Russian that identifies someone from the same profession but does not mean Snowden is collaborating with Russian intelligence.
“We have already held a meeting with our North American counterparts, and they support us in this decision,” Lobarev said.
Neither Lobarev nor Kucherena could be reached for comment.
Kucherena told reporters last week that Snowden’s plight is being watched closely by Russians and many have offered help. Women have offered him lodging and marriage proposals, he said, while men offered financial assistance.
Full article: Edward Snowden Seeking to Join KGB Veterans Group (Washington Free Beacon)