Targets of British intelligence are discussing the international security leaks by Edward Snowden nearly every day, the U.K.’s top spy chiefs told lawmakers on Thursday.
“The leaks from Snowden have been very damaging; they’ve put our operations at risk,” John Sawers, head of British foreign spy agency MI6, told Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee. “Al-Qaeda is lapping it up.” Andrew Parker of MI5, the domestic surveillance agency, and Government Communications Headquarters chief Iain Lobban flanked Sawers on the panel for their first-ever joint televised appearance on the matter.
Lobban said terrorist groups are now chatting about ways to avoid their communications from being intercepted or exploited by the agencies. All three condemned the months of revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency conducted massive surveillance operations around the world, including reportedly tapping the phones of about three-dozen foreign leaders.
The intelligence services faced questioning this week about their working relationship with the NSA, and a media report that London has a secret listening post in its Berlin embassy.