NSA leaker and indefinite Russian tourist Edward Snowden is not yet a pro at PR. After he showed up on state television to lob Vladimir Putin a question about the country’s own surveillance apparatus — Putin dunked an incredulous, anti-U.S. blanket denial — Snowden tried to explain that he was hoping to get Putin’s “evasive response” on the record. Now Snowden’s allies are admitting the whole thing was a bad look. “I don’t think there’s any shame in saying that he made an error in judgment,” an anonymous source close to Snowden told the Daily Beast.
“He basically viewed the question as his first foray into criticizing Russia. He was genuinely surprised that in reasonable corridors it was seen as the opposite,” said ACLU lawyer and Snowden adviser Ben Wizner. “It was the strongest possible question that could possibly get through [Putin’s propagandists],” another person added. Predictably, Snowden was not permitted a follow-up.
“I know this is hard to believe. I know if I was just watching from afar, I’d think, ‘Wow, they forced him [Snowden] to do this,’” Wizner added. “But it’s not true. He just fucking did it.”
If the plan was to kickstart a discussion, it worked — the problem is we’re talking about Snowden’s mistakes, not Putin’s.