NSA director says he has ‘no opinion’ of WikiLeaks, ‘I really don’t track them’

June 23, 2013

National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander said Sunday that he doesn't track or hold an opinion of WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group apparently aiding the travel of Edward Snowden, the man who recently revealed information about sweeping U.S. government surveillance efforts.

"I have no opinion on Wikileaks. I really don't track them. I really don't know who Wikileaks are, other than this [Julian] Assange person," Alexander said on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos."

Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, recently revealed himself as the source behind reports in The Washington Post and Britain's Guardian newspaper about the NSA's telephone and surveillance activities. He had taken refuge in Hong Kong, but the government there said Sunday that he had left the country "on his own accord for another country."

Snowden reportedly landed in Moscow, but his final destination is unclear. Russian reports news reports said that Snowden was booked Cuba and then Venezuela. WikiLeaks said in a statement Snowden is being accompanied by the group's "legal advisors."

Meanwhile, Ecuador's foreign minister tweeted Sunday afternoon that his government had received a request for asylum from Snowden. Cuba and/or Venezuela could be stopping points on the way to Ecuador.

The U.S. government has filed criminal charges against Snowden. White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon told CBS News on Saturday that the U.S. asked Hong Kong to extradite Snowden. But the government in Hong Kong said that documents from the U.S. seeking an arrest warrant “did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law.”

"I'd like to find out why our papers were not in compliance. That would be a big mistake of the Department of Justice," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on "Fox News Sunday."

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said Snowden "is delusional if he thinks he's going to find a country with a better human rights record in Moscow or in Havana or in Caracas."

Hong Kong also said it asked the U.S. for “clarification” regarding reports that its agencies hacked computer systems there. When asked whether the U.S. broke any laws in Hong Kong, Alexander responded that no U.S. laws had been broken.

"I'm confident we are following the laws our country has and doing what we do," Alexander said.

Alexander on Sunday again defended the NSA's telephone and Internet surveillance efforts. Last week he said the efforts helped thwart terrorist events in the U.S. and abroad more than 50 times since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

"What Snowden has revealed has caused irreversible and significant damage to our country and our allies," Alexander said on "This Week."

Updated at 2:56 p.m.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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