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EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS STORY REPLACES 4131 WHICH WAS WITHDRAWN. Thank you Russian President Vladimir Putin says he never met Edward Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who was granted asylum in Russia this year. Putin spoke of him to a packed news conference on Thursday during an annual question-and-answer session with hundreds of journalists from across Russia. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, SAYING: "I have never met him. He has his own views about life, about what he should do and how. I won't hide it that he seems very interesting to me." Snowden - leaked documents revealing a sweeping U.S. government surveillance program. Putin said Russian intelligence agencies had not made contact with Snowden either. During the news conference which was broadcast across the country, Putin said he envied President Barack Obama for the might of U.S. intelligence services. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSS