Edward Snowden surprised many today by appearing via video link on a live broadcast on Russia’s state TV channel RT while President was also on air. With the forum in front of him, Snowden straight up asked Putin if Russia has its own NSA-like surveillance system in place.
Our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law, so our special forces can use this special equipment as they intercept phone calls or follow someone online, but you have to get a court’s permission to stalk a particular person, said Putin (English provided by a translator)
We don’t have a mass system of such interception, and according to our law it cannot exist.
However, The Verge reports that Putin left himself with some “wiggle room” in his answer. “Of course we know that criminals and terrorists use technology for their criminal acts and of course our special services have to use technical means to respond to their crime,” the Russian president said. “Of course we do some efforts like that, but we do not have mass-scale, uncontrollable efforts like that.” Putin added that Russia does not have the same money as the US to carry out such surveillance measures.
On the broadcast, the anchor described Snowden as someone that “revolutionized the world by leaking the information about American secret services” when she was introducing him. You can watch the broadcast below.