Former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden joined Twitter on Tuesday, and in addition to gaining 1 million followers in less than 24 hours after he posted his first tweet, his presence was openly criticized by one presidential hopeful who asked Twitter’s co-founder to shut down Snowden’s account.

GOP candidate and former New York Gov. George Pataki responded to Snowden’s first Tweet, which said, “Can you hear me now?” with criticism, calling Snowden a “traitor who put American lives at risk.”

 

 

Snowden is known for leaking documents which revealed that the U.S. government is spying on innocent Americans and collecting their phone records using the NSA’s mass surveillance program, which was once a guarded secret before Snowden’s actions exposed the agency.

[RELATED: Dishonesty, Deceptiveness, and Disservice – Why Snowden Chose to Become a Whistleblower]

Since the documents were published in June 2013, Snowden has yet to return to the United States and is currently in an undisclosed location in Russia. If and when he returns to the U.S., he will face felony charges of theft, “unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.”

In addition to retweeting comments from Twitter users who agreed with his original statement, Pataki posted a second tweet addressing Snowden, this time calling on Twitter co-founder and interim CEO Jack Dorsey to shut down Snowden’s account.

Dorsey did not respond to Pataki on Tuesday, but he did respond earlier to Snowden’s initial tweet, welcoming him to Twitter.

Dorsey also retweeted a tweet from Snowden, which addressed the label of “traitor.” The word was mentioned in each of the Tweets Pataki posted that referenced Snowden.

Pataki’s final tweet mentioning Snowden was in response to a user who said that a “great American company gives voices a chance to speak, not silences them.”

Investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, who published documents leaked by Snowden in the The Guardian in 2013, chimed in on Twitter with posts that appeared to be aimed at Pataki’s comments.

After posting his first Tweet on Tuesday morning, Snowden gained 1 million followers in less than 24 hours. Greenwald noted that this was over 10 times more than Pataki, who currently has about 53,300.

Snowden also gained attention for following only one account on Twitter: the NSA. In addition to greatly surpassing Pataki in number of followers, Snowden also surpassed the NSA, which has less than 100,000.

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