MOSCOW, April 17 (RAPSI) – The use of special equipment, in particular, for the tapping of private conversations and for surveillance, is regulated by law in Russia, President Vladimir Putin said when answering Edward Snowden’s question during the annual Direct Line program on Thursday.

“Mr. Snowden, you are a former intelligence employee, and I have worked for an intelligence agency, too. So let’s talk like two professionals. To begin with, Russia has laws that regulate the use of special equipment by security services, including for the tapping of private conversations and for the surveillance of online communications.

They need to receive a court warrant to be able to use this equipment in each particular case. So there is no, and cannot be any, indiscriminate mass surveillance under Russian law,” Putin said in reply to a question from Edward Snowden.

The whistle-blowing ex-employee of the US National Security Agency asked about placing societies under surveillance in order to increase the effectiveness of intelligence or law-enforcement investigations.

Snowden, a computer specialist and former contractor for the NSA, was the focus of international attention last summer after he leaked to the media classified evidence of US government surveillance programs.

On June 14, 2013, the US authorities charged Snowden under three articles, each of them stipulating punishment of up to 10 years in prison. Two of the charges were brought under the 1917 Espionage Act.

Having initially fled to Hong Kong, Snowden arrived in Moscow on June 23. On August 1, after an extended stay in a Moscow airport, he was granted temporary asylum and is now living at an undisclosed location in Russia.