In what might be regarded as having the fox guard the henhouse, a leading Russian website has hired fugitive secrets-leaker Edward Snowden to oversee its data protection.
Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told Russian news service RIA Novosti that the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor starts his new job Friday.
Kucherena declined to identify the social media site where Snowden will be working, citing “security reasons.” Snowden’s Russian guardians have often expressed fears that U.S. intelligence operatives might snatch Snowden from his Russian refuge, if they can find him, and spirit him back to the United States to face espionage charges.
Snowden, 30, has stirred global outrage with his disclosures of massive NSA surveillance of phone calls, emails, text messages and other personal communications. In the nearly six months since he left his high-tech job with the NSA, he has released details of secret U.S. counter-terrorism operations that swept up millions of domestic and foreign communications for “data mining.”
In recent days alone, U.S. ambassadors have been summoned to hear protests from foreign governments, and President Obama has had to call offended allies including German Chancellor Angela Merkel to calm the diplomatic storms churned up by the intrusions.
Although Kucherena wouldn’t identify Snowden’s new employer, the RIA Novosti-related Digit.ru reported that “the only major net resource not to deny hiring” Snowden is VKontakte.ru, a Russian social media site akin to Facebook (link in Russian).
VKontakte founder Pavel Durov had publicly offered Snowden a job at the website in August, shortly after the fugitive’s appeal for temporary asylum in Russia was granted.
A spokesman for VKontakte, Georgy Lobushkin, declined to comment on the reports and speculation that Snowden was going to work for the website. Other major Russian Internet companies, including Yandex and Mail.ru, denied hiring Snowden, the English-language daily Moscow Times reported.
Snowden has mostly kept a low profile since being allowed to settle in Russia. A Life News broadcast on Thursday showed a person purported to be Snowden on a Moscow River sightseeing cruise, with the Christ the Savior cathedral in the background.
In the same broadcast, Kucherena told Life News that his client was busy studying Russian and getting to know the country and its culture, and that he had no plans to try to move on to another foreign refuge (link in Russian).