U.S. Military Denies Snowden Claim That China Stole Top-Secret Warplane Data


U.S.
military
officials are pushing back against a claim that National
Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden
made last week about China
stealing top-secret data on a pricey warplane program.

Snowden,
a former contractor who fled the United States after exposing NSA spy
secrets
, shared documents with German magazine Der Spiegel that appear
to show that China stole sensitive data about the warplane, including
engine schematics and radar design.
The magazine made public a report on China’s intelligence theft earlier this month.
But
on Tuesday, the F-35 fighter jet program office told Reuters that the
documents released by Der Spiegel only show non-classified data about
the jet.

“Classified F-35 information is protected and remains secure,” the program office told Reuters in a statement.

In
the statement, Pentagon officials said they continue to take all
potential cyberattacks seriously, and that the incident in question was
not expected to negatively impact the program, Reuters reported.

Chinese
foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Monday denied China stole the
jet data
, according to The New York Times. The “complexity” of the
alleged cyberattacks “means that it is extremely difficult to identify
the source,” Mr. Lei said.
“I wonder if they can produce evidence to prop up such accusation and groundless attack,” he said.

Pentagon
spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren declined on Tuesday to discuss whether
the Chinese had been able to peek at U.S. military technology secrets.
“We never talk about cyber-intrusions and we don’t comment on leaked information,” he said.


The
report on China’s alleged cyber theft is the latest information leak to
come from Mr. Snowden, who has sought asylum in various countries since
fleeing the United States in 2013.