UK & World News
Snowden Questions Putin During TV Phone-In
Fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin a question on government surveillance during a televised phone-in show.
It is the first known direct contact between the pair since Russia granted the former US spy agency contractor asylum last year.
He submitted his question in a video clip, wearing a jacket, open-collar shirt, and speaking in front of a dark background.
He asked: "Does Russia intercept, store or analyse, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals?"
Putin, a former spy during Soviet rule, joked: "You are an ex-agent. I used to have ties to intelligence."
He then answered Snowden's question, saying Russia regulates communications as part of criminal investigations, but "on a massive scale, on an uncontrolled scale we certainly do not allow this and I hope we will never allow it".
He said the Russian authorities needed consent from a court to conduct such surveillance on a specific individual "and for this reason there is no (surveillance) of a mass character here and cannot be in accordance with the law".
Snowden was offered refuge in Russia after he disclosed widespread monitoring of telephone and internet data by the United States and fled the country.
Putin's refusal to hand Snowden over to the United States, where he is wanted on espionage charges, added to strained ties between the two countries.
Snowden was granted asylum for at least a year.