WASHINGTON, July 7 (RAPSI) – Media reports suggesting that nine out of ten surveillance targets are ordinary Internet users are an exaggeration, an NSA press spokesperson told RIA Novosti.

The Washington Post writes that nine out of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations provided to it by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were not the intended surveillance targets.

“These reports simply discuss the kind of incidental interception of communications that we have always said takes place under Section 702 [the law that governs the collection of information on foreigners]. We target only valid foreign intelligence targets under that authority, and the most that you could conclude from these news reports is that each valid foreign intelligence target talks to an average of nine people,” Robert Litt, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said in an interview.

Edward Snowden, a computer specialist and former contractor for the US National Security Agency, was the focus of international attention in the summer of 2013 after he leaked classified evidence of US government surveillance programs to the media.

On June 14, 2013 US authorities charged Snowden under three articles, each of them stipulating punishment of up to 10 years in prison. Two of the charges were brought under the 1917 Espionage Act.

Having initially fled to Hong Kong, he arrived in Moscow on June 23. On August 1, after an extended stay at a Moscow airport, he was granted temporary asylum and is now living at an undisclosed location in Russia.