The former GCHQ director David Omand said the leaks by US whistleblower Edward Snowden and published by The Guardian were even worse than the Cambridge spy ring’s in the 1950’s.
“You have to distinguish between the original whistleblowing intent to get a debate going, which is a responsible thing to do, and the stealing of 58,000 top-secret British security documents and who knows how many American documents, which is seriously, seriously damaging,” Omand told The Times.
“It’s the most catastrophic loss to British intelligence ever, much worse than Burgess and Maclean in the 1950s,” he added.
Snowden began disclosing information jointly collected by the GCQH and its American counterpart the National Security Agency (NSA) back in May.
He said their Tempora and Prism operations could have targeted almost anyone acros the world ranging from the most senior politicians to the ordinary people.
This comes as The Guardian has recently pledged to continue publishing Snowden leaks after the security services raided the paper’s headquarters and destroyed all Snowden files back in August.