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Economist’s Edward Lucas claims Russian ‘radio silence’ over invasion of Crimea was due to Snowden revelations

By Dominic Ponsford

Senior editor at The Economist Edward Lucas this morning suggested that the West was unprepared for the Russian invasion of Crimea as a consequence of the Edward Snowden revelations by The Guardian.
And – speaking at a conference held at the LSE – he questioned what public interest there was in revealing the way democracies spy on dictatorships.
Lucas, who has written an e-book about the Snowden affair, said: "Every country that can keeps its secrets and every country that can tries to get the secrets of other countries.
He said that the survelliance capabilities of the German equivalent of the NSA were boasted about in the journalistic equivalent of a "blow job" a couple of years ago in Der Spiegel and that the Wall Street Journal ran a piece 12 years ago which said: "Dear European allies, this is why we spy on you".
Lucas said that Snowden's spying revelations should not be a surprise to anyone: "Unless you are completely naive, very stupid or working for The Guardian".
He said: "This is comletely not shocking. But I find it absolutely shocking that the Snowdenistas have never been able to explain why it's in the public interest to reveal how democracies spy on dictatorships.
"China is a very nasty country. If China is not an appropriate target for our intelligence agencies I don't understand what is."
He added: "The Snowdenistas have not been able to find a single piece of evidence that espionage was used to the benefit of any single American company. If that had happened it would have been a scandal. Or evidence of the NSA breaking any other American law."
Lucas said that Snowden had not just given away "the fact that we spy" he said that he had given away "real detail about our capabilities".
He said: "Some of this stuff the other side genuinely didn't know about and now they do." He said that the West was unprepared for the invasion of Crimea because the Russians engaged in "radio silence in a way that they haven't done before" – suggesting that this was a consequence of Snowden.
"If Snowden had approached me with these documents I would have marched him down to Bow Street police station and asked them to arrest him."
UK-based German journalist Annette Dittert, from ARD, said she was surprised at the relative silence from other media in the UK after The Guardian first began publishing information from the Snowden files.
She said that the British media has "an almost romantic relationship with the security services…in Germany we have a totally different history and good reason to believe our security services aren't only there to protect us.
"We had the Stasi, we didn't have James Bond. "
Speaking later at the same conference Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said: "There have been lots of assertions. Ed's book is full of assertions. Where is the evidence?"

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