Russian President Vladimir Putin said he’s jealous of President Barack Obama for being able to “get away” with U.S. spying even after damaging leaks by National Security Agency contractor-turned-fugitive Edward Snowden.
“How do I feel about Obama after Snowden’s revelations? I envy him, because he can get away with it,” Putin told reporters during a Thursday news conference in Russia, as quoted by USA Today. Snowden was granted asylum in Russia earlier this year.
But Putin also downplayed the seriousness of what Snowden revealed, which has included allegations that the U.S. monitored communications of other world leaders.
He called espionage “one of the oldest professions in the world, just like some other well-known professions — we won’t mention them here,” apparently referring to prostitution.
Putin did say some regulations on surveillance were necessary, because on a political level, “it’s necessary to limit the appetite of special services with certain rules.”
Putin said of Snowden, who faces felony charges in the United States: “To speak in professional jargon, operatively speaking, we are not working with him, and we never worked with him.
“It is up to him to determine his future,” Putin said, according to USA Today. “We are not going to help him, just give him shelter.”