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Ex-British intelligence worker jailed for attempted murder of U.S. NSA employee

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LONDON, Oct 30 (Reuters) – A former British intelligence worker who tried to kill a U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) employee in a “premeditated, targeted and vicious attack” was jailed on Monday for 13 years.

Joshua Bowles, 29, repeatedly stabbed the unnamed woman, who was working at British intelligence agency GCHQ, in March near its base at Cheltenham in western England.

Bowles had previously worked at GCHQ but was no longer working there when he carried out the attack.

He told police after his arrest: “The target was selected for her employment at the NSA.

“Due to the size and resourcing, American intelligence represents the largest contributor within the intelligence community so made sense as the symbolic target. I consider GCHQ just as guilty.”

Bowles, who lived in Cheltenham, pleaded guilty in August to the attempted murder of the woman, known only as 99230. He also pleaded guilty to assaulting a man who tried to stop the attack.

Prosecutor Duncan Penny told London’s Old Bailey on Friday that Bowles launched the attack outside a leisure centre in Cheltenham after researching two other U.S. nationals who had also worked for the NSA at GCHQ.

In one of his police interviews, Bowles said: “The system is rigged. I believe the intelligence community helps ensure this rigging, this view has been reinforced by my time working at GCHQ.”

Penny said Bowles’s motivations “demonstrate that his use of serious violence against 99230 was designed to influence the UK government, by inference, not to work with or not to work as closely with the U.S. National Security Agency and/or was designed to intimidate those working at GCHQ”.

Penny also said Bowles described himself as a terrorist after the attack, saying to one witness: “I make a pretty shit terrorist, don’t I?”

Bowles’ lawyer Tim Forte argued Bowles carried out the attack as a result of his social isolation and depression combined with his grievance against GCHQ.

“He is not a terrorist, this is not a terrorist act,” Forte said.

However, Judge Bobbie Cheema-Grubb said on Monday that Bowles had carried out a “politically-motivated attack” and sentenced Bowles to a minimum of 13 years in jail.

Reporting by Sam Tobin; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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