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Snowden Leaks Prompt Defense Industry Fears Over Use of Foreign Electronics

NOVO-OGARYOVO — The defense industry is cutting down on its use of foreign electronics as a result of leaks by ex-U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, a government official said Monday.

Snowden's actions in divulging details of U.S. government intelligence programs had shown the need for arms makers to be careful of importing any equipment that contained software capable of transmitting sensitive data abroad, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said.

Rogozin specifically referred to foreign made lathes.

"Those lathes contain software which can have certain settings. They could either shut down at some point or transmit certain data about the engineering parameters of an assignment [in progress]," Rogozin, who oversees the defense industry, told reporters after a meeting on arms contracts chaired by President Vladimir Putin.

Officials have denied that Snowden has been debriefed by Russian security services.

"If we talk about electronic components used widely in the navy, air force and armored vehicles, not to mention space … here we will also stick to the necessity of key electronic components being produced in Russia," said Rogozin, the country's former ambassador to NATO.

The Defense industry has been crippled by under-financing after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and domestic electronic engineering has largely fallen behind, forcing producers to rely on foreign-made electronics.

Kremlin-backed project Glonass, Russia's answer to the U.S. GPS system, has been marred by several botched launches that experts inside Russia have blamed on faulty foreign made microchips.

Information leaked by Snowden, 30, includes details of a previously secret intelligence program, Prism, which internal National Security Agency documents suggested gave it direct access to data held by Internet companies.

Russia has refused to extradite Snowden, stuck in Sheremetyevo airport since arriving in the country from Hong Kong on June 23, although the U.S. has promised not to execute or torture him if he is sent home. The case has increased strains in U.S.-Russian relations.

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