Maxim Shemetov / Reuters file
Fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden's photograph on his new refugee documents granted by Russia.
Widespread leaks of official secrets, such as those passed on by NSA leaker Edward Snowden, are a “gift” to terrorists the new head of Britain’s security service said in a rare and frank speech late Tuesday.
In his first public outing since taking over as Military Intelligence Section 5 (MI5) Director General in April, Andrew Parker said the leaks caused “enormous damage” to the British equivalent of the National Security Agency, the Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ).
“We are facing an international threat and GCHQ provides many of the intelligence leads upon which we rely,” Parker, who has been with the agency for 30-years, said in the speech for London think tank, the Royal United Services Institute.
Although he did not mention the former NSA contractor Snowden by name he said that the security capabilities made public by media reports based on documents he stole were incredibly harmful.
“It causes enormous damage to make public the reach and limits of GCHQ techniques. Such information hands the advantage to the terrorists,” Parker who led MI5's response to the 7/7 London bombings said. “It is the gift they need to evade us and strike at will.”
Crown Copyright via Reuters
Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham is seen in this undated handout aerial photograph.
“Unfashionable as it might seem,” he added. “That is why we must keep secrets, secret.”
Snowden, a 30-year-old computer whiz who divulged details about National Security Agency and Britain's GCHQ has not been seen since Russia granted him temporary asylum in August.