“I envy Obama because he can spy on his allies without any consequences,” said Putin when asked about how his relations had changed with the US following Snowden’s espionage revelations.
During an annual question-and-answer session with journalists, Putin praised Edward Snowden’s actions, saying that he was working for a “noble cause.” At the same time he accepted the importance of espionage programs in the fight against global terrorism, but said the NSA needed guidelines to limit its powers.
“There is nothing to be upset about and nothing to be proud of, spying has always been and is one of the oldest professions,” said Putin.
Referring to the vast amounts of metadata gathered on citizens by the NSA, Putin said it is impossible to sift through all of that information. It is “useless” to look at the analysis of spy agencies because it is the opinion of analysts and not facts and as such can be misleading.
“You need to know the people who analyze them, I know, I did it,” said Putin, harking back to his career as a KGB agent.
The Russian president described Snowden as a “curious character” and said it was not clear why the former CIA contractor had decided to blow the whistle on the NSA’s international espionage program at such a young age.
Russia is not working with Snowden and has not received classified documents from him, Putin said. The whistleblower has been allowed to reside in Russia but only on the condition he does not “engage in anti-American propaganda.”