Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was able to download NSA documents while working for Dell in 2012, almost a year earlier than previously thought, Reuters has reported.
While much of the scrutiny on Snowden has been focused on his time with NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, Snowden was only with the company for three months, and spent his previous time since 2009 employed by Dell.
During his time with Dell, Snowden was assigned as a contractor to the NSA in the US and Japan.
Anonymous sources speaking to Reuters said that Snowden had "downloaded information while employed by Dell about eavesdropping programs run by the NSA and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters, and left an electronic footprint indicating when he accessed the documents".
A spokesperson for Dell told the wire service that its "customer" has asked Dell not to talk about Snowden's time with the company.
Australian Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said in a speech last week that the actions of Snowden and Bradley Manning did not constitute "genuine whistleblowing", because the information they leaked was not related to government "wrongdoing".
"The attorney-general drew attention to the important distinction that should be made between genuine whistleblowing, which means revealing illegal activities by government, and unauthorised disclosures of confidential information in relation to actions that are in fact authorised under law and overseen by appropriate government bodies," a spokesperson for Dreyfus told ZDNet today.
Greens communications spokesperson Scott Ludlam has accused the Australian government and opposition of having a bipartisan agreement to not talk about Manning and Snowden's activities.
"We have, over the last day or so, seen our attorney-general declare that people like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are not whistleblowers and respectively cutting them loose, indicating that the Australian government doesn't support the kind of legal protection that really should be [given] to whistleblowers who disclose war crimes," Ludlam said earlier this week.