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Edward Snowden, former NSA contractor and U.S. fugitive, phoned in to Vladmir Putin Thursday during a televised event to ask the Russian President if his country takes part in any kind of mass surveillance of its citizens.
According to Voice of America, this is the first known communication between the two since the Russian Leader granted Snowden asylum for one year’s time after having fled the U.S. for leaking classified documents.
Snowden appeared as a video clip during the on air question-and-answer episode, asking Putin directly “Does Russia intercept, store or analyze, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals?”
USA Today reports that Putin, a former Soviet spy, first acknowledged his and Snowden’s shared experience in intelligence gathering, and chose to address him as peer. While Putin admitted that Russian authorities use limited surveillance technologies for criminal cases, he attests his country can’t afford mass surveillance like the United States.
Putin added, "Our special services, thank God, are strictly controlled by the society and by the law and regulated by the law."
Russia’s harboring of Snowden has only increased tensions for them and the United States. Currently, Snowden currently faces 30 years of imprisonment for his leaks.