'I envy' Obama: Putin says on NSA spying

Ahram Online , Friday 20 Dec 2013

The Russian president says surveillance is an 'important weapon'

Russian President Vladimir Putin answers a question at his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 (Photo: AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he envied his US counterpart Barack Obama for the latter's "ability to spy on the rest of the world,” Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported on Thursday.

“I envy [Obama] because he can do this, and nothing will happen to him because of it,” the agency quoted Putin as saying.

The report said that Putin had seemingly showed some understanding for the US surveillance operations as he considered as an "important weapon in the fight against terrorism.”

However, the ex-KGB agent mentioned that he called for it through "more-or-less understood rules and definite agreements, including [those] of a moral character."

“I’m not going to justify anyone,” he said. “But on the whole, [espionage] is a necessity,” Putin said.

The US spying operations was unveiled by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden in 2013, who was granted asylum in Russia, and showed that the agency tracks the locations of nearly five billion cellphones every day, including those belonging to American abroad and worldwide top-level officials. 

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