Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower whose leaks of classified documents earned the Washington Post and The Guardian joint Pulitzer prizes a few days ago, is currently living in Russia under asylum.
During a live television broadcast, Snowden called in (we don't know how spontaneous this was) and asked Russian President Vladimir Putin about Russia's spying capabilities. "I've seen little public discussion of Russia's own involvement in the policies of mass surveillance," Snowden said. "So I'd like to ask you: Does Russia intercept, store or analyze, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals?"
Putin then explains to Snowden that he has a bit in common with him. "Mr. Snowden, you are a former agent, a spy. I used to work for the intelligence service. We are going to talk one professional language," Putin said. "Our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law, so our special forces can use this special equipment as they intercept phone calls or follow someone online, but you have to get a court's permission to stalk a particular person."
"Of course we know that criminals and terrorists use technology for their criminal acts and of course our special services have to use technical means to respond to their crime," he continued.