Edward Snowden appeared on a Russian propaganda talk show this week, asking Russian President Vladimir Putin, “Does Russia intercept, store or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals?”
“You have to get a court permission to stalk a particular person,” Putin replied, according to a translation by the Russia-owned American network Russia Today. “We don’t have a mass system of such interception. And according to our law, it cannot exist.”
“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,” Putin added.
Snowden is a former NSA contractor who is responsible for the biggest U.S. intelligence leak in history. He says he is a supporter of former presidential candidate Ron Paul, and often speaks of the importance of civil liberties. After leaking millions of documents on U.S. intelligence and operations to media outlets, he fled to Hong Kong, and from there to Putin’s Russia.