Putin to filmmaker Oliver Stone: Snowden no traitor, but should have resigned

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed topics ranging from global spying to assassination attempts in an interview with Oliver Stone for the film director's upcoming documentary series.

Russia's harboring of Snowden, who is wanted in America for revealing intelligence secrets, sparked a major confrontation with the U.S. The Foreign Ministry said in January that Russian Federation had extended Snowden's right to live in the country for "a couple more years". "He didn't betray the interests of his country", Putin says in a new preview of Oliver Stone's Showtime docu-series "The Putin Interviews", which premieres June 12. "He did not betray the interests of his country". When Stone asked Putin if he thought the NSA had gone too far in its eavesdropping, the Russian leader replied, "of course they did".

Stone then asks Putin about Russia's intelligence services, which the Putin says are "working quite well".

Stone is best known for Hollywood blockbusters inspired by American history such as "JFK" and "Born on the Fourth of July", but has previously made films about the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Venezuelan firebrand Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013.

The snippet of the film by the award-winning director, released by Showtime on Thursday, shows Putin in the driving seat taking on the case of the former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and CIA employee, who leaked classified information on the extent of the NSA's surveillance to journalists, and is now wanted on espionage charges in the US. "We just got word this morning that President Putin has agreed to sit with yours truly for a one-on-one interview at the conclusion of tomorrow's forum...so that ought to be fun", Kelly beamed. "Nor did he transfer any information to any other country which would have been pernicious to his own country or to his own people." said Putin. As for Russia's own intelligence gathering operations, Putin offered a rose-tinted assessment of their work, peppered with a few digs at the United States.

Also in the interview, Putin said Russian intelligence suffers from problems he implied he saw with the NSA. That's the first thing. And secondly, trying to spy on your allies, if you really consider them allies, is just indecent. "And it means that in the end it deals damage to your own national security", he said.

  • Salvatore Jensen