Edward Snowden has just proven beyond any doubt that the call-in question to Vladimir Putin was not, as far too many people here and elsewhere accused, a staged kiss-up to Putin. (He has also proven that he has balls the size of Volkswagens).
This is just f'ing brilliant:
The question was intended to mirror the now infamous exchange in US Senate intelligence committee hearings between senator Ron Wyden and the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, about whether the NSA collected records on millions of Americans, and to invite either an important concession or a clear evasion. (See a side-by-side comparison of Wyden's question and mine here.)So many levels of awesome in that. Making Putin mimic Clapper's lie? Are you kidding me?
But this is the most important part:
The investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov, perhaps the single most prominent critic of Russia's surveillance apparatus (and someone who has repeatedly criticised me in the past year), described my question as "extremely important for Russia". It could, he said, "lift a de facto ban on public conversations about state eavesdropping."That is just genius. And really just plainly brave: he was getting Putin to go on the record with what will now likely be exposed as a lie. Wow. (You gonna fuck with Putin like that?)
Others have pointed out that Putin's response appears to be the strongest denial of involvement in mass surveillance ever given by a Russian leader – a denial that is, generously speaking, likely to be revisited by journalists.
Edward Snowden - bravo, my friend. Bravo, and be safe.
Added, from Trevor Timm, head of Freedom of the Press Foundation (link):
If anyone doubts Edward Snowden's courage and convictions, I hope this op-ed puts that to rest. http://t.co/...— Trevor Timm (@trevortimm) April 18, 2014