(CBS SF) — In less than six hours of creating a Twitter account, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden amassed over 640,000 followers — six times more than the NSA’s account.
Snowden’s first tweet “Do you hear me now?” was a subtle jab at government officials who labeled him as a traitor after he leaked classified information about numerous U.S. surveillance programs around the world.
But perhaps the more symbolic gesture is the sole Twitter account he chose to follow: the NSA.
Twitter, which verified Snowden’s account with a blue check mark, published a GIF showing how many people across the world began to follow him since Tuesday morning.
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson engaged Snowden in his first Twitter conversation, starting with a welcome.
Snowden responded, “@neiltyson Thanks for the welcome. And now we’ve got water on Mars! Do you think they check passports at the border? Asking for a friend.”
Tyson asked if he was staying busy.
“Surveillance never sleeps, and secret projects @FreedomofPress are keeping me busy,” Snowden said, “but I still find time for cat pictures.”
Then Tyson asked what he thought of the labels “hero” and “traitor.”
Tyson tweeted back at Snowden “you’re a patriot to me. Stay safe.”
Nicole Jones is a digital producer for CBS San Francisco. Follow her musings @nicjonestweets