Mashable reports that Edward Snowden made a surprise appearance on Russian television to ask Vladimir Putin whether he spies on his citizens.
"Does Russia store, intercept, or analyze, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals, and do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations can justify a place in societies rather than subjects under surveillance?" Snowden asked Putin (see the full exchange in the video embedded below).Click on the link to view the video.
“Mr. Snowden, you are a former agent, a spy. I used to work for the intelligence service, we are going to talk one professional language,” Putin said, according to translation by state-run TV channel Russia Today. “We don’t have as much money as they have in the States and we don’t have these technical devices that they have in the States. Our special services, thank God, are strictly controlled by society and the law and regulated by the law.”Paul Woodward, in his article Did Snowden just make a visa-renewal application directly to Putin live on Russian TV? opines:
Russia clearly has means to “respond” to terrorists and criminals who use technology, Putin added, but doesn’t have “uncontrollable efforts like [in America].”
No doubt Edward Snowden’s most loyal supporters will find ways of putting a positive spin on his TV performance, but neither of two of the most obvious ways in which it can be interpreted cast him in a favorable light.I consider myself a "Snowden supporter," and yet I'm not sure how I feel about this latest development. Pro or con, what are your thoughts on the subject?
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If on the other hand, Snowden was “invited” to ask his question with the understanding or expectation that this would result in some kind of quid pro quo — such as increasing the chance of him being offered permanent asylum — then he just demonstrated his willingness to function as a propaganda tool supporting Putin’s agenda.
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There’s no question that Snowden’s appearance was a PR stunt. The question is: who instigated it?