Russian President Vladimir Putin discusses the infamous United States National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden in a new clip from Oliver Stone‘s upcoming documentary, The Putin Interviews. The four-part film premieres June 12th on Showtime.
In the clip, Stone (who directed the 2016 biopic Snowden) asks Putin whether, as a former KGB agent, he was incensed with Snowden’s decision to leak classified information. Putin offered a surprising initial assessment, saying, “Snowden is not a traitor. He didn’t betray the interest of his country. Nor did he transfer any information to any other country which would have been pernicious to his own country or to his own people.”
Putin added that he did not agree with Snowden’s decision to leak information, arguing that if Snowden was upset with the NSA’s conduct he should’ve resigned instead (as Stone notes, Putin himself stepped down from the KGB over disagreements with the former Soviet government). 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.
“Our intelligence services always conform to the law,” Putin said. “That’s the first thing. And secondly, trying to spy on your allies, if you really consider them allies, is just indecent. Because it undermines trust. And it means that in the end it deals damage to your own national security.”
Stone interviewed Putin more than a dozen times over the course of two years, most recently in February after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Since he first became president of Russia in 2000, Putin has never granted such access to a Western interviewer.