GCHQ's eavesdropping HQ in Cheltenham - Photo: http://news.sky.com
The US government has paid at least £100m to the UK spy agency GCHQ, over the past three years, according to documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The payments were made to secure access to Britain's intelligence gathering programmes, according to the documents viewed by The Guardian newspaper.
The revelations have emerged after Snowden was granted a year's asylum in Russia following more than a month inside an airport terminal.
The fugitive left Moscow airport in a taxi, although his intended destination was not clear. The US said it was "extremely disappointed" by Russia's decision.
The payments to GCHQ are set out in the latest cache of leaked documents which make clear that the Americans expect a return on the investment.
"GCHQ must pull its weight and be seen to pull its weight," a GCHQ strategy briefing, reported in The Guardian, insisted.
Snowden's supporters say he has a right to freedom of speech
The funding highlights the close relationship between GCHQ and America's National Security Agency (NSA) and raises fears about Washington's hold over the British agency.
In another document from 2010, GCHQ acknowledges that the US had "raised a number of issues with regards to meeting NSA's minimum expectations".
It said GCHQ "still remains short of the full NSA ask". Ministers have denied that GCHQ does the NSA's "dirty work".
Snowden, a former NSA contractor who is wanted by the US on espionage charges, has in the past warned about the relationship between the two agencies.
He said the organisations have been jointly responsible for developing techniques that allow the mass harvesting and analysis of internet traffic.
White House spokesman Jay Carney says the US is 'disappointed' by Russia
The Guardian also reports on indications that GCHQ is pouring money into efforts to gather personal information from mobile phones and apps.
According to one document, GCHQ wants to be able to "exploit any phone, anywhere, any time".
The details of the NSA payments are set out in GCHQ's annual "investment portfolios".
Payments include £17.2m for the agency's Mastering the Internet project, which gathers and stores vast amounts of "raw" information ready for analysis.
Asked about the payments, a Cabinet Office spokesman told The Guardian: "In a 60-year alliance it is entirely unsurprising that there are joint projects in which resources and expertise are pooled, but the benefits flow in both directions."
A senior security source in Whitehall added: "The fact is there is a close intelligence relationship between the UK and US and a number of other countries including Australia and Canada."
Snowden's asylum in Russia was met by anger from the US.
"We are extremely disappointed that the Russian government would take this step despite our very clear and lawful requests in public and private that Mr Snowden be expelled and returned to the United States," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
Mr Carney said Moscow's decision undermined US-Russian law enforcement cooperation that had improved since two ethnic Chechens were blamed for the Boston Marathon bombings.
American officials will make contact with their Russian counterparts, Mr Carney said, but he refused to explain any diplomatic repercussions for Moscow.
Add the rhetoric comin from Iran’s president-elect Hassan Rouhani sayin "A would to be cleansed" the tension not just in the Middle East but the world as a whole are probably as unstable as they have been since cuban missle crisis, bad times ahead