Europe between past and future

Sep 2, 2013

U.K. Spies Trying to Crack Guardian Reporter's Passwords in NSA leaks/NSA Spied On Brazil, Mexico Leaders


I'm sorry for the pain I have caused a brilliant journalist's family. My thoughts and prayers are with the two at this time.

U.K. Spies Trying to Crack Guardian Reporter's Passwords in NSA Leaks Case

 U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald (C) looks on as his partner David Miranda (R) talks with the media after arriving at Rio de Janeiro. Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald (center) looks on as his partner, David Miranda (right), talks with the media after arriving at Rio de Janeiro's International Airport on Aug. 19, 2013.

Earlier this month, British police seized a trove of leaked secret surveillance documents from the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald at a London airport. Now, the country’s top spy agency has apparently been drafted in helping crack passwords Greenwald was using to protect the files.
At a court hearing in London on Friday, senior U.K. government national security official Oliver Robbins said in a written statement that “misappropriated material” it had obtained from David Miranda included “approximately 58,000 highly classified UK intelligence documents.” Miranda was detained and interrogated for nine hours under terrorism laws on Aug. 18 while passing through a London airport en route from Germany to Brazil. He had been working as an aide to Greenwald, transporting materials between journalists who have been using a trove of secrets leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden to expose mass surveillance by the NSA and its U.K. counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ.
According to Robbins’ statement, Miranda made the mistake of carrying a piece of paper with written instructions for decrypting one of the encrypted files on a hard drive he was transporting. It is unclear how much data the authorities gained from this drive. A separate statement made at the court Friday by a U.K. counterterrorism officer said that authorities had gained access to 20 gigabytes of 60 gigabytes of data contained on the hard drive, but only 75 of the 58,000 documents he was carrying were “reconstructed.”
U.K. authorities have also drafted the National Technical Assistance Centre, a little-known section of GCHQ made up of cryptography experts and forensic computer specialists, to help them crack the encryption used to secure the files.  According to the counterterrorism official, Greenwald’s drives were encrypted using software called TrueCrypt. The journalist has previously stated he was “not worried at all” that the authorities could break the encryption. But NTAC is a highly skilled outfit that has successfully helped police crack encrypted drives used by suspected child abusers to store indecent images.
Whether the NTAC can get into Greenwald’s drives will depend on the exact configuration of encryption he used and the strength of the password on the files. TrueCrypt has previously proved too difficult for the FBI to crack, but NTAC will likely devote its full resources into gaining access to the documents, and it may be able to recover at least a portion of the files. U.K. authorities are also likely to share the seized files with the NSA, who have been boasting in recent years about “groundbreaking” new decryption capabilities.
The U.K. is now considering prosecuting Miranda under the country’s Official Secrets Act and Terrorism Act for his role transporting the trove of files. Authorities say he was carrying material that could have endangered national security and U.K. intelligence officers’ safety, but Miranda was transporting the documents as an aide to journalists, and there is no evidence that he had any intention to indiscriminately publish the sensitive material online or hand it to al-Qaida terror chiefs for their perusal. The Guardian has been carefully redacting the files it has been publishing, even coming under fire from WikiLeaks for redacting too much.
Either way, British authorities appear intent on pursuing a prosecution against Miranda under terrorism and secrecy laws—even if it means setting a precedent that undermines press freedom, putting any journalist working with classified information in the U.K. at risk of being accused of aiding terrorists.

NSA Spied On Brazil, Mexico Leaders

RIO DE JANEIRO -- The National Security Agency's spy program targeted the communications of the Brazilian and Mexican presidents, and in the case of Mexico's leader accessed the content of emails before he was elected, the U.S. journalist who obtained secret documents from NSA leaker Edward Snowden said Sunday.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, told Globo's news program "Fantastico" that a document dated June 2012 shows that Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's emails were being read. The document's date is a month before Pena Nieto was elected.
The document Greenwald based the report on includes communications from Pena Nieto indicating who he would like to name to some Cabinet posts among other information. It's not clear if the spying continues.
As for Brazil's leader, the June 2012 document "doesn't include any of Dilma's specific intercepted messages, the way it does for Nieto," Greenwald told The Associated Press in an email. "But it is clear in several ways that her communications were intercepted, including the use of DNI Presenter, which is a program used by NSA to open and read emails and online chats."
Calls to Rousseff's office and a spokeswoman were not answered. Messages sent to a spokesman for Pena Nieto weren't immediately returned.
Brazilian Justice Minister Eduardo Cardozo told the newspaper O Globo that "if the facts of the report are confirmed, they would be considered very serious and would constitute a clear violation of Brazil's sovereignty."
"This is completely outside the standard of confidence expected of a strategic partnership, as the U.S. and Brazil have," he added.
In July, Greenwald co-wrote articles in O Globo that said documents leaked by Snowden indicate Brazil was the largest target in Latin America for the NSA program, which collected data on billions of emails and calls flowing through Brazil.
The Brazilian government denounced the NSA activities outlined in the earlier reports.
Greenwald reported then that the NSA collected the data through an undefined association between U.S. and Brazilian telecommunications companies. He said he could not verify which Brazilian companies were involved or if they were aware their links were being used to collect the data.
Greenwald began writing stories based on material leaked by Snowden in May, mostly for the Guardian newspaper in Britain.
Before news of the NSA program broke, the White House announced that Rousseff would be honored with a state dinner in October during a trip to the U.S., the only such full state dinner scheduled this year for a foreign leader. The move highlighted the U.S. desire to build on improved relations since Rousseff took the presidency on Jan. 1, 2011.

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