Edward Snowden may have acted in concert with a foreign power in exposing U.S. surveillance programs, two Republican lawmakers suggested Sunday, according to an AFP report.
"I think there are some interesting questions we have to answer that certainly would lend one to believe that the Russians had at least in some part something to do" with the affair, House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers was quoted as having told CBS's "Face the Nation."
Rogers, a Republican, said "everything from how he prepared to leave, his route of departure and how he quickly ended up in Moscow" put Snowden's ties at question.
The "vast majority" of the information leaked by Snowden, Rogers said, "had nothing to do with the National Security Agency (NSA) program and everything to do with our military capabilities, army, navy, air force, marines."
Rogers, appearing in a second interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," said he didn't think "it was a gee-whiz luck event that he ended up in Moscow under the handling of the FSB" state security agency in Russia.
Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told ABC's "This Week" that he didn't believe " Snowden was capable of doing everything himself.
"I believe he was helped by others," the congressman said in an interview from Moscow.
McCaul, a Republican, said he could not say "definitively" that Russia was involved, "but I believe he was cultivated."
Snowden’s leaks revealed a global surveillance system of unprecedented proportions, and sparked controversy between the U.S. and foreign leaders that had their privacy breached.
One such diplomatic row was with Germany, whose Chancellor Angela Merkel accused the U.S. of tapping her mobile phone.
It has also been reported that the NSA recorded millions of phone calls in France, including calls involving individuals with no links to terrorism, and that the agency had collected almost 200 million text messages a day from across the globe, using them to extract data including location, contact networks and credit card details.
On August 1, Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia. He is free to stay in Russia until at least July 31, 2014, and his asylum status may be extended annually upon request. President Barack Obama reacted angrily to Russia’s move and, in response, cancelled a planned G20 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On Friday, Obama curtailed the reach of massive the NSA phone surveillance sweeps, in a long-awaited speech designed to quell a furor over the programs exposed by Snowden.
The president, however, also said bulk data collection must go on to protect America from terrorists.