Whistleblower Edward Snowden might have damaged his street cred by taking part in a telly interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual televised call-in show on Thursday and was asked a question by Edward Snowden in what appears to be a very staged event.
"I've seen little public discussion of Russia's own involvement in the policies of mass surveillance," Snowden said. "So I'd like to ask you, does Russia intercept, store or analyse in any way the communications of millions of individuals? And do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations can justify placing societies, rather than subjects, under surveillance?"
Putin, a former KGB agent, said that since Snowden was a spy he will talk to him in a professional language. He went on to outline how Russia's surveillance activities differ from those of the National Security Agency. He said that Russian intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law and there needed to be court permission to stalk a particular person. Russia did not have a mass system of interception and according to our law, it could not exist.
"Of course we know that criminals and terrorists use technology for their criminal acts, and of course special services have to use technical means to respond to their crimes ... but we do not have mass-scale, uncontrollable efforts like that," he added.
"I hope we won't do that, and we don't have as much money as they have in the States and we don't have these technical devices that they have in the States. Our special services, thank God, are strictly controlled by the society and the law, and are regulated by the law,” Putin said.
It is not clear how much of that is actually true, but Snowden by taking part in the whole thing seemed to be giving his Russian hosts the thumbs up for whatever they might be doing.