Protesters rally in Hong Kong to support Snowden
June 16, 2013, 12:15 am TWN
HONG KONG -- Hundreds of protesters staged a rally in rain-hit Hong Kong Saturday to urge the city's government not to extradite former spy Edward Snowden, and slam the U.S. for its surveillance programs.
Snowden, 29, has gone to ground in the city after blowing the lid on the U.S.' vast electronic surveillance operation and has vowed to fight any extradition request.
The city's first major demonstration on the issue saw protesters, including pro-democracy lawmakers, activists and a large number of expatriates march to the U.S. Consulate holding banners and shouting "Defend Free Speech," "Protect Snowden," "No Extradition" and "Respect Hong Kong Law."
Many blew whistles and wore masks with Snowden's face on it.
"Today we all blow the whistle," shouted Tom Grundy, a British blogger and activist who lives in Hong Kong.
One protester held a sign of U.S. President Barack Obama's famous "Hope" poster, edited to show the leader as a spy wearing large headphones. Another sign read: "Betray Snowden, Betray freedom."
The United States has launched a criminal investigation after Snowden, a former CIA technical assistant, leaked details of Washington's secret Internet and telephone surveillance programs.
The protesters, made up of 27 civil society organizations, handed a letter over to the U.S. Consulate addressed to Consul General Steve Young, which said: "For many years, the U.S. State Department has publicly supported the cause of Internet freedom and criticized other governments for conducting cyberattacks, surveillance and censorship.
"We now understand, through recent revelations, that the U.S. government has been operating their own blanket surveillance systems and allegedly conducting cyberwarfare against Hong Kong.
"This is a violation of Human Rights of people of Hong Kong and around the world."