Social media sites were filled with concern over the former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, who leaked information about the NSA. A social media Twitter account that claimed to belong to Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Interior Minister of Russian Federation, was confirmed fake. The Twitter account, controlled by unknown users claimed that Snowden had died. The initial post stated, “Former NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden was found died few minutes ago in his home. No details.” After that posts continued to come in about Minister Kolokoltsev’s supposed press conference at 5 pm to discuss the death.
This set off a wave of social media posts as users were begging for more information. It was not until the International Business Times reported that the account was a hoax that people began to drop their worry. However, due to the fact that this is not the first time that social media has reported the former NSA employee dead, users should know better than to trust social media accounts for accurate death information.
Many celebrities and well-known public figures have been “killed off” on social media sites, many times before. Snowden seems to die often on social media. In 2013 a fake Twitter account claimed to be from journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian and claimed that the former NSA employee had died in a drone strike in Hong Kong.
Posts claiming government conspiracy, American revenge killing, and jumping to the worst conclusions filled up Twitter for most of Wednesday. Though many users tweeted that they suspected that the death report was a hoax, news sources began confirming such on Twitter, a few hours later. As Snowden is a whistleblower in one of the nation’s biggest security breaches of NSA documents. Because of this his life is very controversial as he is hailed as both a traitor of the nation and a hero of citizens.
Snowden leaked thousands of stolen secret documents from his hotel room in Hong Kong in 2013. As he was afraid that he would be killed or put in prison, it is somewhat of a justified assumption that Twitter posts reporting his death would be accurate. However, so far he is alive and well. His leaked information helped open the eyes of citizens to the NSA surveillance acts that were spying on American citizens.
After Snowden released all of the information that he had on the NSA, he stated that he was willing to sacrifice his life because he could not allow the United States government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties. In a sense he did die on that day, as he left behind his entire life to seek asylum in another country and give Americans the information that he had. He was also charged for theft of government property, willful communication of classified intelligence with an unauthorized person, and unauthorized communication of national defense information. Two of these charges fall under the Espionage Act which could have caused him to receive a death sentence, anyway.
After seeking asylum in Russia Snowden remained there when the government denied the U.S. request for extradition. Though the U.S. government considered him a traitor, U.S. citizens were grateful for what he had done. In fact, over 100,000 people signed a petition online asking President Obama to pardon Snowden of his crimes against the U.S.
How much of a danger Snowden’s life is in, if any, is not quite known. Obama has refused to give Snowden pardon. The whistleblower lives somewhat in exile and has expressed how much he misses his life in the U.S., in interviews. Though Twitter posted that Edward Snowden had died, his death was once again confirmed as a hoax. He currently remains in Russia.
By Crystal Boulware
Photo by Center on National Security