00:02 GMT25 January 2020
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    Ex-CIA Employee Discloses US Secret Surveillance Programs (254)

    A private US company that performed a background check on whistleblower Edward Snowden at the request of the US government, has agreed to pay $30 million in fraud settlement, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) informs.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – USIS and its parent company, Altegrity Inc., have agreed to pay $30 million in exchange for a release of liability under the False Claims Act (FCA), which the firms violated, according to the DOJ.

    "Shortcuts taken by any company that we have entrusted to conduct background investigations of future and current federal employees are unacceptable," Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the US Justice Department’s Civil Division, said as quoted in a Wednesday DOJ statement.

    US Investigations Services Inc. (USIS) and its parent company, Altegrity, have agreed to settle allegations that USIS violated quality standards stipulated by the contract it signed with the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

    "This particular company failed to meet its obligations of comprehensively reviewing the backgrounds of current and prospective federal employees. This settlement demonstrates our commitment to holding government contractors accountable," Acting US Attorney Vincent H. Cohen Jr. of the District of Columbia said as quoted by DOJ in its Wednesday statement.

    Former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, who had been cleared by USIS, started leaking millions of classified government documents in June 2013. The leaks disclosed NSA’s mass surveillance of civilian, corporate as well as government communications.

    In the United States, Snowden faces up to 30 years in prison.

    In July 2013, the whistleblower was granted a one-year temporary asylum in Russia. On August 1, 2014, after a year in Russia, Snowden received a three-year residency permit.

    Ex-CIA Employee Discloses US Secret Surveillance Programs (254)


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