Snowden and Putin

I found this article that contains comments from Russian president Vladimir Putin that shed an interesting light on the sequence of events that led to Edward Snowden ending up in Russia and his relationship with Putin. The report also says that even though he has little money, Snowden is settling in and learning the language.

Putin reiterated that he would not be giving up Snowden to the US and that he was free to live in Russia and expressed sympathy for what Snowden had abandoned in order to do what he did.

“You know, I sometimes thought about him, he is a strange guy,” ex-KGB spy Putin said in an interview with state-run Channel One television.

“How is he going to build his life? In effect, he condemned himself to a rather difficult life. I do not have the faintest idea about what he will do next,” Putin said.

Putin said while US special services consider Snowden a traitor “he is someone with a completely different frame of mind and considers himself to be a fighter for human rights.”

What I found particularly interesting was something mentioned almost in passing, and that deal with the condition that Putin had imposed on Snowden in return for granting him asylum, and that was that he refrain from releasing any more information that would embarrass the US. People have been puzzled as to how leaks are continuing to emerge. But according to the report,

“He was told about it,” Putin said of Snowden, adding he did not agree to his conditions. “And he left, just left, and that’s it,” he said, referring to the Russian diplomatic mission in Hong Kong which he said Snowden had contacted.

Did Snowden never agree to the condition not to continue the leaks or did he agree later? The fact that the leaks continue suggests the former.


  1. Jeffrey Johnson says

    In reading the article, it sounds like Snowden didn’t agree to stop leaks before leaving Hong Kong. It isn’t clear whether he agreed or not before leaving Sheremetyevo. But I thought that Snowden had already turned all of his materials over to Greenwald, so that whether or not further leaks ocurred was entirely beyond his control, making the point somewhat moot.

    Before anyone falls into the error of thinking what a wonderful guy Putin is compared to the evil Barack Obama, the article also said this:

    But asked what would he do with the leaker were he a Russian national, Putin said he would do everything to make sure he is “held responsible in strict accordance with Russian law.”

    As far as I know, Snowden has only been granted temporary asylum for one year. Does anyone know what will happen after that year is up, and Snowden may no longer be politically useful to Putin? The article seems to imply that Snowden is settling in to Russian life for the long haul. But as far as I know, he hasn’t been granted any legal status beyond one year, as of this moment.

  2. Nick Gotts says

    Did Snowden never agree to the condition not to continue the leaks or did he agree later? – Mano Singham

    I had the impression Snowden handed over everything he had to Glenn Greenwald before he arrived in Russia. If so, he has no control over the continuing leaks.

  3. Lassi Hippeläinen says

    The horse is already out of the stable, locking the door is too late. Snowden gave all his material to the Guardian (at least), and they control the leaks, not Snowden.

    He also put 400 GB of “insurance files” in WikiLeaks. At this point he can just sit back, relax, and see things unfold.

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