|Snowden files put Australia under world glare
US fugitive Edward Snowden may have stolen up to 20,000 secret Australian intelligence files, a report said. The attorney general called the leaks the most damaging in history.
Documents already released have proved a major headache for Canberra, sparking its worst diplomatic crisis in years with neighbor Indonesia amid warnings that more revelations appear likely.
The Australian newspaper said the vast scale of the security breach is only just becoming evident.
It reported that intelligence agencies had determined that between 15,000 and 20,000 secret Australian files could have been accessed by Snowden through his computer at America's National Security Agency.
“The majority of the stolen reports are likely to discuss political, economic and military intelligence gleaned by Australian agencies, especially the Australian Signals Directorate in the Asia-Pacific region,'' the front page report said, without citing sources.
Over the past six months Snowden's leaks have laid bare the scale of spying by the United States and other countries, often on their own allies. In an interview with the newspaper, Attorney-General George Brandis said they were massively damaging.
“The Snowden revelations are the most serious setback for Western intelligence since the Second World War,'' he said.
“Given that most of the sophistication and the structure of Western intelligence-gathering was developed since the Second World War, it would not be an exaggeration to say it is the most serious ever.''--AFP