A former KGB major says Russian spies disguised as diplomats in Hong Kong tricked National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden into flying to Moscow, where they’ve since harvested the former contractor’s sensitive intelligence knowledge.
“It was a trick and he fell for it,” 55-year-old ex-Major Boris Karpichko told The Mirror. “Now the Russians are extracting all the intelligence he possesses.”
Karpichko was a member of the KGB’s Second Directorate specializing in counter-intelligence, and fled Moscow in 1998 after spying on his native country of Latvia for the KGB and it’s post-soviet successor, the FSB. The ex-major says he is still in contact with several Russian intelligence colleagues, who informed him that spies from Russia’s external intelligence service (SVR) were responsible for getting Snowden into Moscow.
According to Karpichko, the Kremlin leaked Snowden’s flight plan from Hong Kong to Moscow under the assumption that the U.S. would revoke it, which they did on June 22, stranding Snowden in the airport as of June 23.
Since obtaining asylum on Aug. 1, Snowden has been living under FSB protection in a Moscow suburb controlled by the agency, according to the former KGB spy.
“His flat is heavily alarmed to stop anything happening to him,” Karpichko said. “He meets the FSB twice a week over plenty of food and drink.”
“The Russians are very pleased with the gifts Edward Snowden has given them,” former KGB General Olig Kalugin said, echoing Karpichko’s assertion. “He’s busy doing something. He is not just idling his way through life.”
Karpichko said Russia has had its eye on Snowden since 2007, when CIA deployed the then 24-year-old to Geneva as a systems administrator and technician under diplomatic cover at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
A CIA official told Vanity Fair that Snowden “was in the system” and “reading the traffic” at CIA station in Geneva, where another famed CIA field agent believes the Russians first made contact. A Department of Defense official with knowledge of the investigation into the leaker made a similar speculation late last month.
Snowden said he first considered leaking intelligence in 2008 after becoming “disillusioned” about U.S. government policy, and quit the CIA in 2009. He eventually ended up at NSA, where he took on several new positions before downloading classified sensitive documents estimated in the hundreds-of-thousands to millions and fleeing to Hong Kong from his home in Hawaii last May.
The leaker has since claimed that he either gave to journalists or destroyed all of the documents he had in his possession prior to traveling to Russia in anticipation of an attempt to solicit information from him.
Mounting evidence appears to indicate a large amount of sensitive military information went out the door with Snowden — intel that both the U.S. and U.K. claim could have serious damaging and dangerous consequences if it fell into enemy hands.
“He will stay in Russia until they have got everything they want from him,” Karpichko said. “They need the time to extract all the classified intelligence he possesses about the operational methods and tactics of Western security agencies.”