Spying on other countries is a secretive and sometimes clandestine affair with the sole purpose of safeguarding the national interests. Spies are ‘planted’ or ‘developed’ or ‘used as a mole’ as the case may be. The spy uncovered can be replaced easily. But, the information on the spy network (and the confidential sources) when leaked out not only exposes them to government authorities and also compromises their safety and endangers their lives. All the contacts fade out and re-establishing a spy network will be practically impossible.
That’s precisely what is daunting the British and U.S. counter-intelligence agencies because of Edward Snowden’s action of leaking out more than 1.7 million secret documents, two years ago. It caused diplomatic embarrassment then and withdrawal of many persons quickly.
Edward Snowden claimed the highly sensitive data he downloaded was encrypted but it appears that Russia and China have managed to decipher many of the documents.
The gruesome result is many persons’ lives are at stake.