By: Spencer Kennedy
Now Edward Snowden is famous, or infamous, for his role in opening up discussion about mass surveillance and national security. After the United States determined the illegality of his actions, Snowden sought asylum in Russia, where he remains to this day.
Russia, itself, has been in the spotlight recently over the Ukraine crisis. Tensions have been building between Russia and other world leaders, particularly the United States. Several threats of “action” have been made against Russia and President Vladimir Putin, but so far no military action has been enforced.
In the midst of these two politically edgy situations, Edward Snowden made a “surprise” appearance during a Putin question-and-answer session on Russian television, adding to the already brimming tension. Snowden did not appear in person, and his questions were not at all surprising to President Putin; rather, Snowden was video-linked in real time, and asked scripted questions about mass surveillance practices in Russa.
No, Putin said, Russia does not carry out mass surveillance on its citizens. In what was certainly a jab at the White House, Putin went on to explain that “intelligence efforts here are strictly regulated by law” and “require a court’s permission” to carry out surveillance.
Despite the brevity of Snowden’s appearance, it certainly made waves. Already heavily criticized by some for his role in speaking out against NSA surveillance, Snowden fanned the flames by continuing his dissent against American tactics. Furthermore, he chose to do so in a live and televised appearance in Russia, where the ongoing conflict with Ukraine is attracting negative opinions from other world leaders, including the U.S.
As far as Edward Snowden is concerned, he is already cut off from America. So it stands to reason that he would continue his assault against the NSA. What is interesting, however, is his decision to willingly appear on Putin’s program, which will certainly lead some otherwise neutral Americans to change their minds about Snowden’s intentions. Not to mention, his (un)timely appearance during the Russia-Ukraine conflict doesn’t help his image very much either.