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Snowden: We were the ones who accidentally cut off Syria's Internet

The media and the global community quickly accused Assad, who had launched a ruthless bombing campaign on his own people.
By Aileen Graef   |   Aug. 14, 2014 at 3:08 PM  |  Updated Aug. 14, 2014 at 4:37 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- NSA leaker Edward Snowden revealed that the agency accidentally shut off the Internet in Syria in 2012 while trying to hack their network -- an event the media blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

During a lengthy interview with Wired magazine, Snowden revealed the U.S. was responsible for cutting off the Internet in Syria in 2012. Syria was in the throes of a civil war, which continues today, when the Internet across the country went out. According to Snowden, the NSA's attempt to hack into the national network to place an exploit in a router to give the agency access to emails and Internet traffic caused the outage.

"Inside the TAO operations center, the panicked government hackers had what Snowden calls an 'oh [expletive]' moment. They raced to remotely repair the router, desperate to cover their tracks and prevent the Syrians from discovering the sophisticated infiltration software used to access the network. But because the router was bricked, they were powerless to fix the problem. Fortunately for the NSA, the Syrians were apparently more focused on restoring the nation's Internet than on tracking down the cause of the outage. Back at TAO's operations center, the tension was broken with a joke that contained more than a little truth: 'If we get caught, we can always point the finger at Israel.'"

The media and the global community quickly accused Assad, who had launched a ruthless bombing campaign on his own people.

Former U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland condemned the regime's "assault" on Syrian citizens' pathway of communication.

The Syrian Civil War is in its third year with hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced.

Follow @AileenGraef and @UPI on Twitter.
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