In his first video since receiving Russian asylum, Edward Snowden railed against “dragnet mass surveillance” that encroaches on the freedoms of “entire populations.”
“This is not about any sort of particular programme,” Mr. Snowden said in one of several short videos released by WikiLeaks over the weekend. “This is about a trend in the relationship between the governing and the governed that is coming increasingly into conflict with what we expect as a free and democratic people.”
The videos, which somewhat lifted a veil of secrecy Mr. Snowden’s stay in Russia, were shot at his meeting with a group of U.S. fellow whistleblowers who had come to Moscow to present him with an award for “for Integrity in Intelligence.”
The former U.S. intelligence officials refused “for security reasons” to reveal where they had met Mr. Snowden, but the videos were apparently shot at a Moscow hotel, around a table laid for lunch or dinner in a Baroque-style meeting room.
He condemned “dragnet mass surveillance that puts entire populations under sort of an eye that sees everything.”
This kind of talk could well bring him into conflict with Russian authorities. A recent report said Russia has set up a surveillance system that is just as sweeping and invasive as the one that has been exposed by Mr. Snowden in the U.S.
Two Russian investigative journalists covering security issues said SORM, the Russian analogue of the U.S. PRISM spying system, enables security services to intercept, store and filter all types of telephone and Internet communications across Russia without any public oversight.
The report by Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan said that although the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB, needs to acquire a warrant to intercept a communication, it does not have to show it to anyone, which means that it can collect any information without anybody knowing about it.
The journalists claimed that the system had been used to eavesdrop on Russian opposition leaders during large-scale anti-government protests in 2011-2012.
“Over the last two years, the Kremlin has transformed Russia into a surveillance state — at a level that would have made the Soviet KGB envious,” the journalists said.
According to their report, an upgraded version of the spying system, called SORM-3, will be used to enforce total surveillance during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia’s Sochi.