President Vladimir Putin has told the National Security Agency whistleblower, Edward Snowden, that Russia is not carrying out mass surveillance programmes of the kind Snowden exposed in the US.
Snowden made a video-link appearance during Putin's marathon televised question and answer session to ask the president about Russia's attitude to mass surveillance.
Snowden asked: "Does Russia intercept or store or analyse the communication of millions of individuals?" He went on to ask whether increasing the effectiveness of internal security systems could ever justify such actions.
To applause from the studio audience, Putin responded: "Mr Snowden you are a former agent, a spy, I used to work for a intelligence service, we are going to talk the same language."
He said Russia did not have a comparable programme, stating: "Our agents are controlled by law. You have to get court permission to put an individual under surveillance. We don't have mass permission, and our law makes it impossible for that kind of mass permission to exist."
Putin tells Edward Snowden: Russia doesn't carry out mass surveillance | World news | theguardian.com
Wow, any claims of idealism this guy had went kaput when he allowed himself to be used like this. Or he's just extremely simple.