Snowden Reportedly Regrets Asking Putin Surveillance Question

Credit: YoutubeCredit: YoutubeTwo unnamed sources have told The Daily Beast that NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden regrets asking Vladimir Putin a question about government surviellance during the Russian president's annual call-in show. I wrote about the incident last week.

According to The Daily Beast's reporting it did not occur to Snowden that the segment could be interpreted as a victory for the Kremlin. From The Daily Beast:

“He basically viewed the question as his first foray into criticizing Russia. He was genuinely surprised that in reasonable corridors it was seen as the opposite,” added Ben Wizner, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who serves as one of Snowden’s closest advisers.

According to Wizner and others, Snowden hadn’t realized how much last week’s Q&A—with Putin blithely assuring Snowden that Moscow had no such eavesdropping programs—would appear to be a Kremlin propaganda victory to Western eyes. And so the leaker quickly decided to write an op-ed for the Guardian to explain his actions and to all but label Putin a liar for his televised response.

As Reason's Scott Shackford noted last week, Snowden defended asking Putin about mass surveillance, saying in an op-ed for The Guardian that, "I regret that my question could be misinterpreted, and that it enabled many to ignore the substance of the question – and Putin's evasive response – in order to speculate, wildly and incorrectly, about my motives for asking it."

Some have criticized Snowden for seeking asylum in Russia. But, as I pointed out shortly after the first publication of a Snowden revelation, Snowden seeking asylum in Russia does not mean he is sympathetic to Russia's authoritarian policies. That said, he might want to be more careful about nonintentionally portraying himself as sympathetic to the Russian government in the future.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...it did not occur to Snowden that the segment could be interpreted as a victory for the Kremlin.

    I'm still not sure how it could be. Did anyone think Putin wasn't lying?

  • RightNut||

    All of Russia....

  • Dances-with-Trolls||

    Snowden embarrassed the DC elites and the WoT at any price pundits therefore anything he says, doesn't say, does, or doesn't do is obvious evidence that Snowden is teh evul.

  • R C Dean||

    He's a naif, politically.

    The fact that he asked the question was spun. I thought the actual exchange was pretty embarrassing for Putin.

  • mr lizard||

    I would've regretted it for more obvious reasons.

  • James Ard||

    Unfortunately, this makes me rethink the whole origin of the breach. From now on, I can never be certain that Mike Rogers is wrong about him, and I hate that.

  • ||

    And if he hadn't said anything, the very people who criticized him for asking the question would be criticizing him for saying nothing. "Why isn't he putting the same kind of pressure on Russia? Because he's really being controlled by the Kremlin!"

    That he asked the question is no indication he's being controlled, and if you find that to be a reason to doubt him then I'm surprised you EVER believed he isn't a traitor.

  • James Ard||

    I had been calling him a hero. And your contention that had he said nothing people would have criticized him is just idiotic bullshit.

  • Cytotoxic||

    And your contention that had he said nothing people would have criticized him is just idiotic bullshit.

    Actually it is completely accurate.

  • R C Dean||

    Think again, James.

    Cast your mind back to when Snowden was on the run. If this was a Kremlin setup from the get-go, I don't think it would have played out that way.

    I'm comfortable concluding that Snowden had no advance arrangements with Russia for asylum, but they were the only/best option after he had shopped it around some.

    Naturally, once you posit a dastardly plot, whatever is inconsistent with that plot gets waved off as a smokescreen. This is known as "assuming your conclusion".

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    His Guardian article:

    http://www.theguardian.com/com.....rs-snowden

    He basically called Putin, the guy who can ship him to the US and prison at any time, a liar.

    He is a brave patriot.

    In contrast, Peter King is a coward who was only too happy to support murderers who operated at a safe distance from himself, for the sake of political gain.

    Basically, Snowden's critics generally have no concept of courage - they themselves are craven poltroons who would jump under the table at the sound of a champagne cork, so they can't envision the possibility that anyone can actually be brave. No, they must have an angle.

  • James Ard||

    If Snowden is Putin's operative, do you think Putin gives a crap if he calls him a liar in the Guardian?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    If you simply made stuff up...wait...

  • R C Dean||

    See, above, re "once you posit a dastardly plot" . . . .

  • Not an Economist||

    So Snowden asks a question in an environment that lets Putin answer the question any way he wants, and the question and answer will get repeated by the Russian media over and over again as how this proves Russia is so much better than the U.S. on civil rights. So Snowden responds to Putin and Snowden's critics in such a way that the Russian media will never report on (since Putin and his allies pretty much control the Russian news media).

    How is this supposed to help the average Russian citizen?

  • Cytotoxic||

    The average Russian citizen should really try to get media from outside their country. It isn't Snowden's job to help them.

  • Anon E. Mouse||

    Brave patriot? Nonsense. Do the math. Snowden, as a contracted network administrator, knew nothing about specific SIGINT programs until AFTER he socially engineered his way into the computer accounts of people who actually had access to information on specific SIGINT programs. In a nut-shell, Snowden knew jack-shit about any SIGINT program until AFTER he downloaded and stole 1.7 million classified documents. Patriot my ass.

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