Snowden Questions Putin on Spying; Answers Fail to Satisfy

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Edward Snowden, a former contractor with the U.S. National Security Agency, is presently a fugitive in Russia, having fled the United States after releasing a number of sensitive documents to the media regarding American intelligence surveillance via phone lines and the Internet.

Following the privacy scandal, Snowden retained something of a public face, appearing on Ted Talks to discuss protection of the Internet to the eventual response appearance of NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett; Snowden also did a live Q&A session over the Internet. Now, he has appeared on TV in Russia during a question and answer segment for Russian President Vladimir Putin. He asked, “Does Russia intercept, store or analyze, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals?”

The question is particularly pertinent following accusations during the Sochi Winter Olympics regarding Russian surveillance, with reminders to visitors and athletes from the U.S. government that they would be subject to Russian monitoring. Phone communications would be captured via Russia’s monitoring system, System of Operative-Investigative Measures, or SORM, and that SORM-3 would be collecting the information from all forms of communication for storage.

Putin responded to Snowden’s question last week by saying that Russia does not have a mass surveillance system, but that information gathered through technology is used in criminal cases in Russia. “Mr. Snowden, you are a former agent, a spy. I used to be working for an intelligence service. We are going to talk one professional language,” said Putin.

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