Vladimir Putin took call-in questions on Russian television Thursday morning, and he received a “surprise” celebrity call from Edward Snowden.
Snowden asked: “Does Russia intercept, store, or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals?” And he asked if increasing “the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations” is justification for placing societies under surveillance.
After noting their mutual background in intelligence services, Putin replied, “Our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law.” He said Russian special forces can use special equipment to intercept phone calls or follow someone online, but that Russian law requires court permission to “stalk” a particular person. “We don’t have mass system of such interception. And according to our law it cannot exist,” said Putin.
Putin said his special services use “technical means” to track terrorists, but that Russia does “not have a mass scale uncontrollable effort like that.”
“Our special services, thank God, are strictly controlled by the society and the law, and are regulated by the law,” Putin said.