Snowden worked at US Embassy in Delhi: report

snowdenWASHINGTON : Intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden worked at the US Embassy in India and took a course in “ethical hacking” in Delhi, about three years before he leaked the NSA’s surveillance programmes that embarrassed the Obama administration.
Snowden was in India in his capacity as a National Security Agency (NSA) contractor “to assist as a technical expert” at the US Embassy in New Delhi, the Foreign Policy magazine reported on Monday, citing a source with knowledge of the situation.
He spent six days taking courses in ethical hacking and programming at Koenig Solutions, a professional institute located six miles from the US Embassy, the report quoted school officials and people familiar with Snowden’s trip as saying.
Snowden, 30, leaked details of the secret surveillance schemes to the media and fled the US to avoid prosecution. He arrived in Russia in June in 2013 and after spending more than a month at the Moscow airport he was granted a year’s asylum.
In India, he inquired about methods to reverse-engineer the world’s most popular kits for committing widespread online crime like the ZeuS, Fragus, and SpyEye crimeware kits. That was a curious request and potentially at odds with his interest in ethical hacking, said Koenig spokesman Somit Biswas.
Snowden flew to India from Japan on September 2, 2010. He stayed for a night at New Delhi’s Hyatt Regency hotel. A representative from Koenig, where Snowden did his courses, picked him up at the hotel on September 3 and drove Snowden to a lodging facility provided by the school.
He stayed there till September 9 while he took classes, and then returned for one more night at the Hyatt before leaving India on September 11, the school was quoted as saying.
Snowden did not disclose his India trip to investigators when renewing his top-secret security clearance the following year.It was this clearance, NSA officials say, that gave Snowden access to the 1.7 million classified files he later stole from the agency’s computer networks and databases. “Working with a private instructor, Snowden, who was then a contractor for the spy agency, took a course in ‘ethical hacking’, where he learned advanced techniques for breaking into computer systems and exploiting flaws in software,” the report said.
US intelligence officials have faulted the company that conducted Snowden’s background check for not questioning him thoroughly about overseas travel and what foreign nationals he may have met with, which is standard procedure for detecting whether someone is spying for a foreign power.
They have characterised the background check as flawed and incomplete. However, the American magazine said Snowden’s trip to India should not have been a mystery to the US government or intelligence agencies.
Snowden’s instructor at Koenig said he made no secret about his work for the NSA. He paid the USD 2,000 tuition and lodging fee himself, using a personal credit card, Rohit Aggarwal, said the CEO and founder of the school, Koenig Solutions.
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