February 14th, 2014
03:53 PM ET

NSA memo alleges co-worker unwittingly provided Snowden password for classified data

By Shimon Prokupecz

The National Security Agency forced out a civilian employee who unwittingly provided password access to former agency contractor Edward Snowden that he later used to obtain classified information he normally couldn’t access, according to an NSA memo.

The memo was sent to members of Congress and reveals for the first time that a Snowden coworker was essentially tricked into giving up his password.

“At Mr. Snowden’s request, the civilian entered the PKI password at Mr. Snowden’s computer terminal. Unbeknownst to the civilian, Mr. Snowden was able to capture the password, allowing him even greater access to classified information,” the memo said.

NBC News first reported on the memo.

The FBI interviewed the unidentified civilian employee, who admitted he entered his password but said he didn’t know what Snowden was up to, according to the memo.

By capturing the password, Snowden was then able to get to highly classified information that he normally couldn’t access.

Snowden has claimed responsibility for leaking a vast trove of NSA documents describing classified surveillance programs, and prompting the Obama administration to overhaul some of the government’s surveillance data collection.

The memo also said two other people may have inadvertently given Snowden access, a contractor and a military employee.

The memo didn’t say what role they may have played, but they have lost their access to the NSA’s database.

The civilian employee resigned in January, according to the memo.

Snowden, who now lives in Russia under asylum, has denied that he stole passwords access government databases.

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Filed under: Edward Snowden • NSA
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