The United States has lost critical foreign intelligence collection sources as a result of the unauthorised leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden, a top American intelligence official has said.

“What Snowden has stolen and exposed has gone way, way beyond his professed concerns with so-called domestic surveillance programmes. As a result, we’ve lost critical foreign intelligence collections sources, including some shared with us by valued partners,” Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper said during a Congressional hearing.

“Terrorists and other adversaries of this country are going to school on U.S. intelligence sources, methods and trade craft. And the insights that they are gaining are making our jobs much, much harder,” he said adding that this includes putting the lives of members or assets of the intelligence community at risk, as well as our armed forces, diplomats and our citizens.

As a result of the Snowden leaks, Mr. Clapper said the U.S. is beginning to see changes in communications behaviour of adversaries, particularly terrorists, a disturbing trend that he anticipate will continue.

“Snowden, for his part, claims that he’s won and that his mission is accomplished. If that’s so, I call on him and his accomplices to facilitate the return of the remaining stolen documents that have not yet been exposed to prevent even more damage to U.S. security,” he said adding that the leaks have done profound damage to national security.

Mr. Clapper said that some of the recent aggressive behaviour by Russia might be due to the documents it has received from Snowden.

“It would be completely out of character, having observed the Soviet and now Russian security services in my 50 years of intelligence, and they are very capable and very aggressive. So, it’s beyond belief to me that they wouldn’t be taking advantage of the opportunity both to exploit and to control Snowden,” Mr. Clapper said.

Congressman Peter King rued that some media have tried to glorify Snowden. “I think, a very distorted version of him to the American people who somehow think he’s some kind of a whistleblower rather than what I would say he’s a person who has sold his country and put Americans in terrible danger throughout the world,” he said.

Defense Intelligence Agency Director Michael Flynn told lawmakers that Mr. Snowden could be under Russian influence.

“Yes, there is a possibility that he is under that (Russian influence),” she said when asked about it.

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