Ed Snowden makes Twitter debut, racks up 933,000 followers
‘Can you hear me now?’ posts ex-NSA contractor in opening tweet
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked classified documents about US spy programmes to world media in 2013, has made his debut on Twitter.
Snowden, 32, is still a fugitive from US prosecutors and currently lives in Russia on a temporary visa. His opening tweet from @snowden was: "Can you hear me now?" and the privacy advocate has managed to rack up a substantial 933,000 followers in less than 20 hours. According to Reuters, he had more than 171,000 by the end of his first hour.
At the time of writing, his most recent tweet was, "Meanwhile, a thousand people at Fort Meade just opened Twitter", in a reference to the Maryland US Army base that houses his former employer, the National Security Agency.
The US government views Snowden as a traitor, after he fled Hawaii in May 2013 with thousands of sensitive documents that detailed surveillance projects by the US and its allies. Snowden's core objection to the programmes was that they gathered massive amounts of information on US citizens that had never been accused of any crime. He long argued that the now-defunct Section 215 of the US Patriot Act was so loosely worded as to be a recipe for abuse.
Snowden also has his supporters, including Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon, Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortensen, British comedian Russell Brand and Apple co-founder Steve "Woz" Wozniak, who earlier this year in Dubai, told ITP.net that he thought Edward Snowden was a "total hero".
Reuters reported that the account name @snowden was already active on Twitter, but had not been used in three years. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), one of Snowden's institutional supporters, persuaded the microblogging company to release the handle to Snowden.