The now famous leaker of classified NSA documents revealing a massive surveillance state in America, Edward Snowden, appeared on a Russian question-and-answer show with Vladimir Putin, asking if he had the same type of surveillance as Obama.
In the video clip posted by Russia Today, Snowden asks “Does Russia, intercept, store or analyze, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals?”
Putin first identified Snowden as a “former agent” and a “spy,” then said that he too used to work in intelligence so “we are going to talk one professional language.”
He then explained that Russia doesn’t have that type of mass data collection in their country.
Putin’s words were translated in an English voice-over who explained “Our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law, so how special forces can use this kind of special equipment to intercept phone calls or follow someone online, and you have to get court permission to stalk a particular person.
“We don’t have a mass system of such interception and according with our law, it cannot exist,” he said.
Putin also explained that while they may not have the same type of mass data collection, “criminals and terrorists” use the latest technology and Russia’s special forces deploy the same means.
“Of course we do some efforts like that, but we do not have a mass scale, uncontrollable efforts like that,” Putin said. “I hope we won’t do that and we don’t have much money as they have in the [United S]tates and we don’t have the technical devices that they have in the [United S]tates.
“Our special services, thank God, are strictly controlled by the society and by the law and regulated by the law,” he said.
According to Politico, Snowden’s question was during a session called “Direct Line With Vladimir Putin,” which is an annual live event that he holds. They were unable to determine if Snowden actually was live or if his appearance was pre-recorded, however RT reported that “appeared via a video link from an undisclosed location.”