Robert Mueller: FBI
Launches Edward Snowden Criminal Investigation
June 14, 2013
The director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert
Mueller, is vowing to take swift action against the former CIA analyst
who has confessed to leaking documents exposing a pair of top secret
government surveillance programs.
Speaking to lawmakers Thursday, FBI chief Mueller confirmed that a
criminal investigation has been opened into the leaks, which he said
have dealt a blow to U.S. national security.
"These disclosures have caused significant harm to our nation and to our
safety. We are taking all necessary steps to hold the person responsible
for these disclosures," said Mueller.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden giving an interview about why he leaked
He did not mention the name of the confessed leaker, Edward Snowden, who
is currently in Hong Kong, from where he has vowed to fight any attempt
to extradite him to the U.S. to face charges.
Mueller defended the surveillance programs, saying they are a legal and
crucial tool in preventing terrorist attacks. He said their disclosure
could prompt potential terrorists to change their behavior and become
more difficult to track.
General Keith Alexander, the head of the National Security Agency, says
the programs carried out by his agency have helped foil dozens of
terrorist attacks. Lawmakers say the NSA will soon present details on
Meanwhile, Snowden, an ex-NSA contractor, continues to speak with media
outlets from Hong Kong. In his latest interviews, Snowden has moved
beyond criticizing the domestic spying programs, and is now also
focusing on what he says are widespread U.S. hacking attempts against
On Wednesday, he told the South China Morning Post the NSA has been
hacking computers in Hong Kong and mainland China since 2009, with
targets including public officials, businesses and the Chinese
University of Hong Kong.
The revelation threatens to further complicate relations between China
and the United States, which have already been trading increasingly
fierce accusations on cyber hacking and espionage.
For the second straight day, Chinese state media, which often reflect
official opinion, devoted a considerable amount of coverage to the
An editorial in the Communist Party-controlled Global Times said Beijing
deserves an explanation from the U.S. on the alleged hacking attempts.
It said Chinese officials should try to acquire more information from
Snowden and "use it as evidence to negotiate with the U.S."
far, there is no evidence Beijing officials have sought out any such
information from Snowden, who is in an unknown location in Hong Kong, a
semi-autonomous sovereign territory of China.
But the editorials now suggest Beijing would be willing to use the leaks
to deflect pressure from Washington, which had attempted to hold China
accountable for its alleged hacking attacks on U.S. targets.
A series of recent private and official reports have accused Chinese
hackers of stealing information, ranging from the designs for dozens of
top U.S. weapons systems to other trade secrets and commercial data that
would benefit Chinese businesses.