"Reporter" who wrote ridiculous story about Snowden leaks in China admits he was just acting as a government stenographer

Tom Harper wrote the ridiculous cover story in the Sunday Times in which anonymous government sources claimed that the Russians and Chinese had somehow gained the power to decrypt copies of the files Edward Snowden took from the NSA, depite the fact that these files were never in Russia and despite the fact that the UK government claims that when criminals use crypto on their communications, the state is powerless to decrypt them.

Harper went on CNN to talk about the story, and when he was questioned about his sources and methodologies, admitted that he just stated "the official position of the British government" without any critical thinking and without signposting the obvious logical flaws in that position.

Harper says he won't defend the bizarre conclusions his story draws, because "it's really for the British government to defend it."

It's funny, because the "official position" of the Prime Minister's Office is that there is "no evidence of anyone being harmed" by the leaks. The "official position" that Harper is referring to was given to him by anonymous sources in the spy agencies, who would not go on the record. This is a funny alternate meaning of "official," meaning "so silly I won't put my name to it."

Remember, the Murdoch-owned Sunday Times threatened copyright action against The Intercept for reproducing a screenshot of the front page with Harper's story on it in an article that pointed out how absurd it all was.

It's then that he makes the "we just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government" claim. Howell then points to one of the many contradictions in the story: the idea that Russia/China hacked into the Snowden files... and the claim that they were just handed over. And again, Harper pleads ignorance. He's just the stenographer:

Again, sorry to just repeat myself, George, but we don't know, so we haven't written that in the paper. Um... you know, it could be either. It could be another scenario.

I mean, it could be that the great fairyland dragon from the 6th dimension dreamed up the Snowden documents and then gave them to Russia and China. Who the fuck knows? I'm just a reporter, man. Why would you ask me for evidence or facts? I'm just rewriting what some government guys told me!

Howell then points out that his story is just the British government's claims, and then asks about the MI6 "agents" that were supposedly moved, and again, Harper pleads ignorance:


Reporter Who Wrote Sunday Times 'Snowden' Propaganda Admits That He's Just Writing What UK Gov't Told Him [Mike Masnick/Techdirt]