Last week, NSA leaker Edward Snowden made a surprise appearance on a live Q&A with Russian President Vladimir Putin to ask about Moscow's surveillance practices. And given that he was greeted like a longtime pal — Putin warmly noted Snowden was, like himself, "a former agent, a spy" — the staged event seemed like an overt bit of propaganda.
Not so, says Snowden. Or at least, that's what those close to him told The Daily Beast's Noah Shachtman.
"He basically viewed the question as his first foray into criticizing Russia," Ben Wizner, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer, told Shachtman. "He was genuinely surprised that in reasonable corridors it was seen as the opposite."
To say it was "seen as the opposite" is a bit of an understatement. Still, perhaps Snowden should have seen that sort of response coming. Would Putin really let himself be caught off guard by pointed questioning from an American expat during his own choreographed interview?