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Putin: US Leaker Snowden Is 'Noble'

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a televised news conference in Moscow, Dec. 19, 2013.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says former U.S. national security contractor Edward Snowden is "noble," but that neither he nor Russian security agencies have had any contact with him. Snowden disclosed classified U.S. documents to media outlets, and was later granted asylum in Russia.

Putin made the comment during a wide-ranging annual question-and-answer session with reporters in Moscow Thursday that also covered missile deployment, U.S. eavesdropping on its own citizens, and Russian aid to Ukraine.

He said Moscow has not made a decision on deploying missiles in Kaliningrad, a prospect that has caused concern in neighboring Poland and Lithuania as well as Washington.

Regarding the U.S. National Security Agency's admission that it collected phone records from U.S. citizens, Putin said such surveillance is necessary to fight terrorism, although he cautioned that government needs to "limit the appetite" of national security agencies to prevent them from becoming too powerful.