Former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden gained access to at least some classified documents he later disclosed by copying a password from a co-worker who has since resigned, the NSA reported to Congress. Snowden has previously said he did not steal any passwords.
The unnamed civilian employee who worked with Snowden resigned last month after the government revoked his security clearance, according to a letter that NSA legislative director Ethan L. Bauman sent this week to the House Judiciary Committee. A military employee and a private contractor also lost their access to NSA data as part of the continuing investigation, Bauman said.
Snowden, a former NSA contract systems analyst, has denied that he stole computer passwords or tricked some co-workers into giving him their passwords. The NSA letter suggested Snowden tricked at least one co-worker and copied the employee’s password without his knowledge.
The civilian NSA worker told FBI investigators last June that he allowed Snowden to use an encrypted digital key known as a Public Key Infrastructure certificate to gain access to classified information on NSANet, the agency’s computer network. The system connects into many of the NSA’s classified databanks. The memo said that previously, Snowden had been denied access to the network.
After the co-worker entered his secure PKI password, Snowden “was able to capture the password, allowing him even greater access to classified information,” Bauman told lawmakers.
Last month, Snowden denied either stealing or using trickery to gaining access to the NSA’s network.
“I never stole any passwords, nor did I trick an army of co-workers,” Snowden said during a public question and answer session on the “Free Snowden” website.