On Friday, Edward Snowden published an op-ed in The Guardian, providing an explanation of why he chose to question Russian President Vladimir Putin on live TV on Thursday about his country’s spying policies.
Snowden wrote that he intended to spark another national debate about state surveillance, this time in the country that hosts him.
Just one day earlier, at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual televised call-in session, the whistleblower directly asked Putin about the current state of surveillance in Russia: “Does [your country] intercept, analyze, or store millions of individuals’ communications?”
Snowden then continued to prod the Russian leader, challenging whether, even if such a program were technically legal, a mass surveillance program could be morally justified.
The Russian leader gave a surprising and suspect law-and-order response that does not seem to correspond with the Russian government’s approach to various domestic and foreign affairs. Putin clearly and unambiguously denied any Russian involvement with dragnet surveillance, explaining: “We don’t have a mass system of such interception. And according to our law, it cannot exist.”
In the op-ed, Snowden described an immediate backlash to what he believed were his own efforts to highlight the problems with any state-run mass surveillance systems.
“I blew the whistle on the NSA’s surveillance practices not because I believed the United States was uniquely at fault, but because I believe that mass surveillance of innocents…is a threat to all people, everywhere, no matter who runs them.”
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