UN official to investigate Snowden leaks

The senior counterterrorism official at the United Nations will launch an investigation into Edward Snowden’s surveillance leaks. 

Ben Emmerson will assess whether British parliament members were misled about its country’s surveillance activities, according to The Guardian

Based on the review, investigators will submit recommendations to the U.N. General Assembly next fall regarding oversight standards.

Snowden had leaked “issues at the very apex of public interests concerns,” Emmerson wrote in an op-ed for The Guardian published Monday. 

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“These questions are too important for the UN to ignore,” wrote Emmerson, who’s served as the U.N.’s top counterterrorism and human rights official since 2011.

“As in the case of Chelsea Manning, there are also serious questions about sensitive information being freely available to so many people. The information Snowden had access to, which included top-secret UK intelligence documents, was available to more than 850,000 people, including Snowden — a contractor not even employed by the US government.”

In late November, Reuters reported Snowden could have access to a “doomsday” cache of highly classified documents stored on a data cloud. Former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden said Sunday that such a cache would be “catastrophic” for U.S. security and safety.

Snowden has leaked as many as 200,000 documents to the media this year, current NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander has said.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported Alexander had offered to resign after Snowden began leaking documents in June, but the Obama administration rejected the offer.

Snowden has been living in Russia since receiving temporary asylum in August, and faces espionage charges in the U.S.

President Obama has ordered a review of the NSA’s surveillance programs, which is due in mid-December.