Friends just call him “Ed.” The rest of the world knows him as Edward Snowden, the self-identified leaker of classified documents belonging to the National Security Agency on two top-secret surveillance programs.
Mavanee Anderson, a personal friend of Snowden, is shedding more light on the man behind the NSA leaks. In an interview with msnbc’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell Wednesday evening, Anderson said Snowden may have questioned the line of work he was in due to “the obfuscations” he had to tell people.
“I knew that he was having a crisis of conscience but I am still surprised even shocked that he would he never gave me any indication that he would reveal anything that was top secret so I am still very surprised,” Anderson said.
Anderson also spoke at length about Snowden’s character. “He was always a loyal friend and a loyal guy,” Anderson told Lawrence O’Donnell. “He was very introspective. He thought long and hard about things…he thought long and hard about the consequences of things before doing things.
She wrote an op-ed coming to his defense in Wednesday’s Chattanooga Times Free Press. “Ed is an incredibly smart, kind and sincere person,” Anderson wrote. “He talked a great deal about the fact that he didn’t complete high school… but he is an IT whiz—I’ve always taken it for granted that he’s an IT genius, really—who came by most of his skill and knowledge on his own.”
The two first met in Geneva, Switzerland. Anderson, a Vanderbilt Law School graduate now living in Washington, said they were in close contact between the summer 2007 and early 2009.
She described him as “introspective,” “a bit prone to brood” and “the type of person who thinks long and hard before coming to a decision.” She also noted his love of martial arts. Anderson chose to stay quiet on a few topics; she said she preferred not to share all of his skills and talents because he’s on the run in Hong Kong.
While expressing her support and admiration of Snowden, Anderson wished she could give have advised him to use a “more a measured approach involving lawsuits or activism.”
“As far as his method goes, I would have counseled him to fight his fight in a different way,” she said. “As a friend, I admire his courage—this strength of purpose is a very real aspect to his character—but I fear for him. Quite selfishly, I would have told Ed that he didn’t have to take this burden on himself. I’d prefer him to be safe at home, brooding away.”
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday indicated 31% of Americans believe Snowden is a “patriot” and should not be prosecuted over his actions; 23% of those surveyed called him a traitor. About 46% weren’t sure.