- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said his country conducts surveillance with court permission on “specific citizens” but does not collect bulk surveillance data on its people, comments of note because of who was asking — Edward Snowden.

Mr. Snowden fled to Russia after leaking documents that revealed the U.S. government’s bulk collection of phone data and other clandestine surveillance operations. The revelations kicked off a massive debate over the nation’s spying programs and earned Mr. Snowden the twin labels of hero and traitor.

“Does Russia intercept, store or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals?” Mr. Snowden asked Mr. Putin during a call-in program on state television, CNN reported. “And do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations can justify placing societies, rather than their subjects, under surveillance?”

Mr. Putin said the country does not have a spying program of “mass character.”

“On such a mass scale … we do not allow ourselves to do this, and we will never allow this. We do not have the money or the means to do that,” he said, CNN reported.