For many, Edward Snowden has become a symbol for those willing to speak out against injustice.
Despite heavy rain, protestors rallied in support of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden in the streets of Hong Kong Saturday.
About 200 people gathered in the downpour outside the U.S. consulate chanting “Free Snowden” and “Arrest Obama” and — literally blowing whistles — claimed they are “all whistle-blowers today.”
A poster with a photograph of Snowden is fixed to an umbrella.
“By standing up for Snowden, I also want to send a message that we need that kind of citizen in Hong Kong,” activist Chikwan Ho told ABC News. “Somebody who is watching our government to see if they are abusing power to control our lives.”
An activist holds a poster with President Barack Obama, with Chinese characters reading, “Say no to oppressor.”
The demonstrators also handed a letter to Consul General Steve Young calling for an end to all surveillance of “innocent Internet users.”
The Snowden supporters gathered outside the Consulate General of the United States in Hong Kong.
“The idea of mass surveillance,” the letter reads, “not only violates the right to privacy and human dignity, but threatens the very fundamental Human Rights of freedom of thought, opinion, expression and association.”
People in the crowd waved signs with Obama’s face reading “Big brother is watching you!” and “protect free speech — protect Snowden.” The crowds were considerably smaller than the roughly 1,000 outraged protestors organizers anticipated.
Jessica Hromas/Getty Images
A little girl holds a cut out picture of Snowden’s face up as protestors take photos.
But support for the former Snowden in Hong Kong, where the former intelligence contractor is seeking political amnesty, has steadily grown since he exposed large swaths of phones records and Internet-usage data from NSA’s surveillance program PRISM, which Snowden calls proof of the U.S. government’s hypocrisy.
The protestors accused the U.S. government of infringing on the people’s rights and privacy.
“This is my first ever march; I just felt pretty strongly about it,” Mary Stickley, a teacher who has lived in Hong Kong for the past 17 years, said to The Guardian.
Snowden was a contract employee at the U.S. National Security Agency.
Snowden said he escaped to Hong Kong because of its independence from western countries and its historical commitment to free speech — a tradition that Hong Kong legislative councilmember Albert Ho says he wants to continue, according to ABC News.
“We demand the whole truth be disclosed by the U.S administration,” Ho said, “and we demand an unconditional apology by Mr. Obama.”
Protesters hold up signs in support of Snowden in Hong Kong.
Since 2009, the U.S. government has allegedly been hacking computers in Hong Kong and mainland China, specifically targeting students and public officials, Snowden told the South China Morning Post.
Activists crowd around the U.S. Consulate to speak their minds.
Many believe that Beijing’s influence on Hong Kong’s government is slowly dissolving the city’s independence that Snowden praised. The protestor’s worry that Beijing might intervene and extradite Snowden back to the U.S.