MOSCOW, December 19 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin described Edward Snowden, the former US National Security Agency contractor who has received temporary asylum in Russia, as a noble man, but denied having ever met him.
Snowden, 30, is currently living at an undisclosed location in Russia, which has granted him temporary asylum until August 2014, despite extradition requests from the United States, where he faces charges of espionage and theft of government property.
“When I faced this I was curious about how he had made this decision. He is a rather young man. What does he have? He had nothing. How is he going to live, where is he going to live?” Putin said at a marathon annual press conference on Thursday.
Putin called Snowden a curious and interesting man, but said he does not know him personally and said they have never met. He also insisted that the Russian security agencies have not worked with Snowden and had not questioned about the NSA’s activities related to Russia.
“He made a noble but difficult choice for himself,” Putin said about Snowden’s whistleblowing revelations.
“Thanks to Snowden, a lot has changed in the minds of people around the world, including politicians. And this is certainly his merit,” Putin said while stressing: "We don’t help him or hinder him, we just gave him asylum.”