In an interview for Nightly News, which was broadcasted on the American NBC television, former US intelligence contractor and whistleblower, Edward Snowden, tried (and managed, according to the social media reactions) to take the dirt off his name that mainstream media has been placing over the course of the past 12 months.
In 2013, Snowden leaked high amount of US secret documents to the filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald, documents that stood as a clear proof of the global surveillance activities executed by the US National Security Agency.
This was the first interview of this kind. Titled "Inside the Mind of Edward Snowden," it was filmed in the Kepinski Hotel in Moscow. “I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word, in that I lived and worked undercover overseas — pretending to work in a job that I’m not — and even being assigned a name that was not mine,” said Snowden when talking about his past in the interview with NBC “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams.
“The reality is the situation determined that this needed to be told to the public. You know, the Constitution of the United States has been violated on a massive scale. Now, had that not happened, had the government not gone too far and overreached - we wouldn't be in a situation where whistleblowers were necessary. I think it's important to remember that people don't set their lives on fire, they don't say goodbye to their families - actually pack up without saying goodbye to their families - they don't walk away from their extraordinary - extraordinarily comfortable lives -- I mean, I made a lot of money for a guy with no high school diploma -- and burn down everything they love for no reason,” said Snowden while he was explaining some of the reasons for leaking the info.
At the moment, Edward Snowden is residing in Russia, under temporary asylum agreement. When he was asked whether he would return to his homeland if such opportunity occurred, he replied: “I don't think there's ever been any question that I'd like to go home. I mean, I've from day one said that I'm doing this to serve my country. Now, whether amnesty or clemency ever becomes a possibility is not for me to say. That's a debate for the public and the government to decide. But if I could go anywhere in the world, that place would be home.” When asked how anxious he was to make a deal to go back, Snowden replied: “ I think my priority is not about myself. It's about making sure that these programs are reformed and that the family that I left behind, the country that I left behind, can be helped by my actions. And I will do everything I can to continue to work in the most responsible way possible -- and to prioritize causing no harm while serving the public good.” Source: NBCUniversal MediaVillage
Secretary of State, John Kerry, had no kind words for Snowden, calling him a coward and a traitor. “He is a traitor. And he has betrayed his country… If this man is a patriot, he should stay in the United States and make his case… Patriots don't go to Russia, they don't seek asylum in Cuba, they don't seek asylum in Venezuela, they fight their cause here,” said Kerry.
What was the reaction of the social media world? To engage its online users and get their opinions, NBC News asked the through it’s official Twitter account to vote on their view of the whistleblower. In the 36-hour period, tweets including the Patriot hashtag managed to outnumber the Traitor hashtag by nearly 60%. See these charts, taken from Mashable.
According to data provided by Sysomos, the word "patriot" was present in nearly 25,000 tweets in the 24 hours after the broadcast. See the chart with details bellow:
Beside these two, other popular hashtags of the night were #InsideSnowden or just #Snowden and they have been tweeted 142,853 times. Interesting thing is that 60% of the twitter traffic was from the US, while the next largest pool of users was from Germany, whose Chancellor, Angela Merkel, was heavily monitored by the NSA.Cover Image: NBC News