Putin condemns 'hypocrisy' of Western cyber-espionage

Putin condemns 'hypocrisy' of Western cyber-espionage

MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday condemned the "hypocrisy" of Western countries who use cyber-espionage to eavesdrop on leaders, and called for an international campaign to combat the problem.

He spoke after Germany on Thursday expelled the CIA station chief in Berlin over alleged spying by the US that has opened the worst diplomatic rift in years between the Western allies.

"As for the facts of cyber-espionage, this is not just blatant hypocrisy in relations between allies and partners," Putin said in a joint interview with Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency and Cuba's Prensa Latina.

"It is also direct infringement of a country's sovereignty and a breach of human rights, an invasion of privacy."

He was responding to a question on Russia's view of countries that carry out phone-hacking and surveillance of other countries' leaders.

"We are ready to develop as a joint effort a system of measures to ensure international information security," said Putin, speaking ahead of a tour of Latin America including Cuba, Brazil and Argentina.

Anger over US espionage was first stirred last year by American fugitive Edward Snowden's revelations that the US National Security Agency tapped the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Germany last month opened a long-anticipated probe into the allegations.

In a keynote speech to ambassadors this month, Putin said Europe was Russia's "natural partner" but it has become a victim of "short-sighted, ideology-driven approaches" of the United States.

Observers saw the speech as Putin's attempt to exploit differences between Europe and the United States during Moscow's worst post-Cold War showdown with the West over Ukraine.

Snowden is currently applying to extend his asylum in Russia which he was granted last year, while he is still subject to an arrest warrant in the US.

US President Barack Obama in January responded to Snowden's disclosures by announcing that he had halted spy taps on friendly world leaders and curtailed the reach of mass NSA phone surveillance.

Putin told Snowden -- who submitted a question to a public question-and-answer session with the Russian leader in April -- that Russia did not give its security agencies powers to carry out phone-tapping "on a mass scale."

Russian state television in February aired a tapped phone call in which Washington's top diplomat for europe, Victoria Nuland, allegedly said "Fuck the EU" in a call to the US ambassador in Kiev.

The recording was originally uploaded onto YouTube with Russian subtitles.

That prompted US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki to describe the apparent phone-tapping as "a new low in Russian tradecraft."

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