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Snowden asks Putin question on surveillance in phone-in

Published on Apr 17, 2014 8:37 PM
 
Journalists listen to a speech and a question posed by former US spy agency NSA contractor Edward Snowden, at a media centre during Russian President Vladimir Putin's live broadcast nationwide phone-in, in Moscow on Thursday, April 17, 2014. Snowden on Thursday made an unexpected intervention in a phone-in with Russian President Vladimir Putin, quizzing him over the extent of Moscow's surveillance activities. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (AFP) - Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden on Thursday made an unexpected intervention in a phone-in with Russian President Vladimir Putin, quizzing him over the extent of Moscow's surveillance activities.

Mr Putin, a former KGB agent, greeted Mr Snowden as a fellow "former agent" before assuring him that Russia's surveillance of the population was not on a mass scale and strictly controlled by laws.

Mr Snowden was granted asylum by Russia last August after he spent a month in the transit zone at a Moscow airport. His location within Russia has been kept strictly secret ever since.

Mr Putin said in December that he had never met Mr Snowden but said "he's not uninteresting to me", while insisting that espionage is a "necessity". Mr Snowden asked the question in English via video. Mr Putin appeared taken aback and was not provided with a translation through an earpiece, suggesting he was not expecting the question.

 
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