Documents that Edward Snowden took when he fled the U.S. included classified files about intelligence programs targeting Russia, China and Iran, a news report said Friday.
Some of the files give details of a spying operation on Russia that was run from a NATO member-country to collect information for the U.S. Air Force and Navy, an unidentified U.S. official told The Washington Post.
If the Russians knew about the intelligence program, "it wouldn't be hard for them to take appropriate measures to put a stop to it," the official said.
Snowden maintains that he acted in the best interests of Americans by raising public awareness about the scope of surveillance operations by the National Security Agency. However, many of the documents he took came from a network run by the Defense Intelligence Agency and do not deal with NSA surveillance but with standard intelligence about other countries' military capabilities and weapons systems, U.S. officials said.
Intelligence officials said that Snowden appeared to have harvested military intelligence documents at random, as there appeared to be no pattern to the files he collected. "It didn't seem like he was targeting something specific," the officials said.
Snowden has insisted there was "a zero percent chance" that any of the files he took would get into the hands of Russian or Chinese officials because he gave all the documents to journalists in Hong Kong before flying to Moscow in June.
He also told journalists with whom he shared classified files that he wanted no harm to result. "I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest," he told the Guardian.