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Investigators believe Snowden may have stayed with a Russian in Hong Kong

 

Investigators do not believe Edward Snowden stayed at the Mira hotel in Hong Kong as he travelled from Hawaii to Russia last summer, but rather at the residence of a non-Chinese national, possibly a Russian, who is suspected of facilitating his travel to Moscow, a source familiar with the case tells Fox News.

The new allegation about Snowden's contacts in Hong Kong comes as the leadership of the House and Senate intelligence committees also claimed the NSA leaker may have had help.

On the Sunday talk shows, the CIA's former deputy director, Mike Morrell, along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, for the first time publicly weighed in on that possibility -- though neither pointed to specific evidence. 

"The disclosures that have been coming recently are very sophisticated in their content and sophisticated in their timing, almost too sophisticated for Mr. Snowden to be deciding on his own," Morrell told “Face the Nation.”

"And it seems to me he might be getting some help.”

On “Meet the Press,” Feinstein responded to a similar line of questioning with, "He may well have. We don't know at this stage."

The claim that Snowden, who now has temporary asylum in Moscow, may not have acted alone was first reported by Fox News in early December based on an interview with Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. On Sunday, Rogers laid out his beliefs for a broad audience.

"Some of the things he did were above his technical capabilities. How he arranged travel before he left, how he was ready to go. I believe there's a reason he ended up in the loving arms of an FSB agent in Moscow. I don't think that's a coincidence," Rogers said on “Meet the Press.”

The Mira hotel did not respond to Fox's questions about Snowden, which included whether he made the reservation himself, whether there was evidence he stayed at the hotel and used their facilities, and who settled the bill. 

There was no immediate comment from journalist Glenn Greenwald, who handled most of the leaked NSA documents. In December, Greenwald described Rogers’ original claims as baseless, in an e-mail that read in part: "Until he offers actual evidence, rather than his empty assertions, everyone should treat this claim as the unreliable and unconfirmed propaganda that it is. Defenders of domestic surveillance can't keep their story straight: one minute they say Snowden is a brilliant mastermind...and the next minute they say he is a dunce who must have had help."

After that initial e-mail exchange, Greenwald came back to Fox News, saying, "I contacted Snowden, who confirms that he 'acted alone and without outside assistance of any kind.'"

The NSA debate triggered by Snowden’s actions now moves to Capitol Hill, where Attorney General Eric Holder will testify next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Its Democratic chairman, Patrick Leahy, suggested on Fox News Sunday the president's announced reforms do not go far enough.

"There's going to be a lot of questions again from both Republicans and Democrats who are concerned that we're going too much in the privacy of Americans," Leahy said.

 

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

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