A new document leaked to the Washington Post show that the NSA gathers address books and contact lists from e-mailers and instant messengers as they flow through computer connections. NBC's Pete Williams reports.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. National Security Agency collects hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts around the world, including many from Americans, The Washington Post reported.
NSA leaker Edward Snowden emerged into the spotlight after being nominated Andrei Sakharov Prize, which honors figures who stand up to oppressive powers, and is given by members of the European Parliament. NBC's Michael Isikoff has the details.
The collection program intercepts email address books and "buddy lists" from instant messaging services as they move across global data links, the newspaper reported on its website, citing senior intelligence officials and documents it said were provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The Post said analyzing that data lets the NSA search for connections and map relationships among foreign intelligence targets.
The data collection takes place outside the United States, but sweeps in the contacts of many Americans, the report said, citing two senior U.S. intelligence officials.
A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA, said the agency is focused on discovering and developing intelligence about foreign intelligence targets. "We are not interested in personal information about ordinary Americans," he told the Post.
NSA leaker Edward Snowden says he loves the United States but is adapting to his new life in Russia after he was granted asylum. His lawyer says he's received high-paying job offers to do computer programming there. NBC's Richard Engel reports.
Snowden's revelations about the reach and methods of the NSA, including the monitoring of vast volumes of Internet traffic and phone records, have upset U.S. allies from Germany to Brazil. Admirers call him a human rights champion and critics denounce him as a traitor.
The 30-year-old is now living in a secret location in Russia, beyond the reach of U.S. authorities who want him on espionage charges because he leaked the details of top-secret electronic spying programs to the media.
He traveled to Hong Kong in May and later, under pressure from China, flew to Moscow, where he has been granted a year's asylum.
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This story was originally published on Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:04 PM EDTCopyright 2013 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.