A National Security Agency employee resigned recently after he admitted to providing former government contractor Edward Snowden with login credentials that gave the whistleblower broad access to classified information on the NSA’s internal computer network.
According to an unclassified memo first reported by NBC News, the employee — who was identified only as an “NSA civilian” — told FBI agents that he provided Snowden with a special kind of encrypted password called a Public-Key Infrastructure (PKI) certificate. The password gave Snowden broad access to classified materials on the NSA’s internal computer network called NSANet.
Snowden instructed the employee to enter his password at his computer terminal, according to the memo. The employee did as requested, not knowing that Snowden would somehow be able to retain the PKI certificate for later use, “allowing him greater access to classified information.”
The FBI’s interview with the civilian employee is said to have taken place on June 18, about one week after newspapers first began publishing stories based on documents Snowden leaked to reporters.
Following the interview, the NSA “suspended” the civilian employee’s access to a specific kind of classified information. In November, the NSA “revoked his security clearance and notified him of the proposal to remove him from NSA employment,” the memo said.
The employee resigned from the NSA in January.
Two others — described only as an “active duty military member” and a “contractor” — were implicated in connection with Snowden’s ability to access and distribute classified documents, the memo says. Their access to classified information was revoked in August.
It is unclear if any of the three identified in the memo will face criminal charges.
The memo was written on Feb. 10 by Ethan Bauman, the agency’s director of legislative affairs, and was distributed to members of the House Judiciary Committee this week, NBC reported. It offered some of the earliest insight into what NBC called a “sweeping NSA internal inquiry” into the Snowden leaks.
The Department of Justice brought espionage charges against Snowden in late June. The idea of offering Snowden clemency in exchange for his return to the U.S. has been the subject of recent public debate.