Snowden Inc.

In interviews with POLITICO, three top advisers to Snowden said they’re pleased with and somewhat surprised by his relative popularity — a popularity that persists despite the fact that U.S. officials regularly accuse him of being a traitor and a spy, and despite the three felonies he’s been formally charged with for stealing and disclosing secrets.

Polls show a substantial base of support for Snowden’s actions, but how large a base he has appears to vary widely depending on the precise wording of questions. In a January Quinnipiac survey, 57 percent of Americans branded him a “whistleblower,” while 34 percent called him a “traitor.” A total of 40 percent of those answering said his disclosures had been good for the country, but 46 percent said they were bad…

Greenwald said Snowden actually gained momentum early on by making the unorthodox decision to identify himself, rather than lurk in the shadows and be introduced to the public through news accounts stemming from the inevitable investigation.

“He was able to define himself in the public eye rather than letting the first enduring impression of who he was be defined by the smear campaign that begins once a person gets fingered,” said the Brazil-based American writer, who recently decamped from the Guardian to startup Firstlook Media. Now, “he definitely has been participating more in the debate — which he also started,” said Greenwald, who regularly leaps to the ex-NSA contractor’s defense on Twitter.