• Thu
  • Nov 27, 2014
  • Updated: 5:51pm
Edward Snowden
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Edward Snowden defends his TV question to President Putin on surveillance

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 April, 2014, 1:24am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 April, 2014, 1:24am

Edward Snowden has defended his decision to appear on live Russian television, insisting his question to Vladimir Putin on mass surveillance was designed to hold the Russian president accountable and not, as critics have suggested, an act of compliant propaganda.

Writing for British newspaper The Guardian, the whistle-blower behind the National Security Agency leaks suggests he carefully framed the question to Putin, which he asked via video link in an annual televised call-in with the president on Thursday. Putin, Snowden writes, "denied the first part of the question and dodged on the latter". Snowden asked Putin: "Does Russia intercept, store or analyse, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals?"

Putin replied: "Our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law … We don't have a mass system of such interception and - according with our law - it cannot exist."

The wording was deliberately modelled, Snowden says, on the query of US senator Ron Wyden to the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, in March last year, almost three months before the NSA leaks began.

Clapper inaccurately denied that the US government collected data on millions on Americans.

Snowden's decision to take part in Putin's annual live session prompted an outpouring of criticism against the former NSA contractor, who is in exile in Russia.

Stewart Baker, the NSA's former general counsel, attacked Snowden in The Washington Post, writing: "It sure looks as though Snowden is playing the Kremlin's game here, serving up a pre-arranged softball on demand."

Even some Snowden supporters voiced unease. Jillian York, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who has previously supported Snowden and the NSA revelations, tweeted: "Snowden's question WAS softball. If he knows as much as he claims, he would've known that the wording gave Putin an easy out."

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This article is now closed to comments

Masako Owada
Edward Snowden is the true American hero. It is the likes of Obama, the F the EU Victoria Nulan that are obnoxious and insidious.
ennoun
Interesting that had Edward Snowden done the same thing in any one of a number of major countries (Russia, China, etc.), he would have been shot. After all that is what has been happening to believed traitors for thousands of years. Now, hiding in Russia on a one year "pass" it appears he may well be used by the Russians for propaganda purposes which will irritate the US and UK (and a few other countries) even more.
In any case, while I certainly do not think he should be shot if eventually caught, who knows what dangers he will face, should he slip out of the country?
J R
Compared to the war criminals and law breakers in the US government, Edward Snowden is a hero and deserves the Nobel Peace Price.

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