Edward Snowden

Protesters urge Hong Kong to protect Snowden, demand answers on US spying

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 June, 2013, 12:56pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Hundreds of supporters of US whistle-blower Edward Snowden took to Hong Kong's streets on Saturday to demand that the government protect the whistle-blower who is hiding in the city. Many also expressed concerns about reports of US surveillance on Hong Kong and mainland networks. Follow the live coverage from Post reporters and social media here.

Complete SCMP coverage and exclusives: the Edward Snowden whistleblowing saga


What do you think about the impact of the protest? Participant Hong Him, 23, says he's not sure. "But when the time comes, then we will have to take more progressive measures to support Ed Snowden," he says.


Protest officially comes to an end. Police estimates put the number of participants at 300, but earlier, organisers said the protest was at 900 people at its peak.


Law brings up the example of the Libyan who was extradited from Hong Kong by the US last year.

"Our basic rights [to privacy] are protected under Article 4 of the Hong Kong law. Foreigners are also protected under Article 4, so we want to make sure the Hong Kong government is doing their job and doing it properly," says Law.


Law Yuk-kai, director of the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, the last speaker for the rally, takes the microphone.


Tom Grundy, one of the organisers, says he has a letter for CY Leung from more than 900 people, urging the Hong Kong government not to extradite Snowden.

A government representative takes the open letter.

"We will continute to apply pressure on the Hong Kong government so the Snowden case can be tried in Hong Kong," says rally spokeswoman Oiwan Lam.


"It's important to show our support for Edward Snowden," says Sayaka Lee, 17, a student. "There is a fine line between security and freedom. If we keep falling into the trap that we need security, then we will fall into the trap of George Orwells' 1984 [novel]."


"We come here because we are angry, because we support Snowden," says James Hok, spokesman of the Hong Kong on Defence of Speech Freedoms.

"Snowden is not a traitor, not a hero, just an American," he continued, as the crowd cheered. "We are like Snowden, regular citizens."

"We are demanding that the US government stop bullying the Hong Kong government," he said.

Hok then addresses Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. "If you do anything to harm Snowden, we will not let you get away with it."


Heard at government headquarters:

"Shame on the US government!"

"Shame on Obama."

"Stop bullying the Hong Kong government!"

The last refers to accusations made by Snowden, during an interview with the Post, that Washington was putting pressure on Hong Kong to extradite the whistle-blower.


"We are giving the Chinese government an opportunity to keep Snowden" and be seen more favorably by the people of Hong Kong, says Nathan Lai, 21, a biology student.


Organisers estimate 900 people have joined the march and are at government headquarters.

"I think people appreciated the information was released," says Roland Smith, 32, a teacher, referring to the leaks about the US surveillance programme Prism. 



Marchers arrive at Tamar, the Hong Kong government's headquarters. "Open the gate!" they shout.

The gate opens.


"What has happened has shown us that the US is spying on the whole world," says Virginia Yau, 40, a clerk. "We are marching for Snowden to let him know that he is not alone."

"I think Snowden has told us the truth and we have a responsibility to protect his core values," says Frank Lam, 28, an auditor.



Among the slogans seen and heard at the march:

"Protect Snowden"

"Shame on Obama"

"Shame on NSA"

"No US spying"


Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has a new nickname: Mr No Comment. After the Snowden case broke, the city's leader repeatedly made no comment on the case, during an official trip in New York and back in Hong Kong.

"We have to defend Snowden because he told us the truth. The Hong Kong government is still silent," says Leung Kwok-wah, Democratic Party lawmaker District Council member for Kwai Tsing.


Marchers press on to the next stop, Hong Kong government headquarters in Admiralty.


An open letter calling for more transparency from the US government is handed to a representative at the US consulate.


The march seems to have stopped outside the consulate.


"China stands to benefit from this case since Hong Kong politicians have to be at least sympathetic to China. They may be more stealthy in telling Hong Kong [what they want] but eventually they'll probably use brute force," says a marcher, an American now living in Hong Kong who identified himself only as Lee, 29. 

"If we're thinking of Snowden as either a hero or a traitor, he is definitely more of a hero."


"I think Snowden is a brave man and we should thank him for what he has done," says Sue Sparks, a freelance academic based in Hong Kong. "There is only a very small chance that he won't be extradited."


Edward Snowden versus Jackie Chan?



"We opposed this protest. The organisers are trying to turn this around and blame China," says Jessica Chan, a saleswoman in her 40s. "Shame China, not blame. We are the victims of US eavesdropping. We are telling them too, you are invading our everyday conversations."


The march from Chater Gardens to the US consulate is under way.


A reader submitted this photo near the US consulate.


"The US has a double standard. They can't eavesdrop on Hong Kong and blame China," says participant Ady Liu from Hong Kong.

Another marcher, Mandy Wan, 30, said: "Hong Kong should protect Snowden. His is not a criminal, he is a hero."

Related story: A poll commissened by the SCMP found that 33 per cent of Hong Kong people think of Snowden as a hero; only 12.8 per cent described him as a traitor; and 23 per cent described him as “something in between”. The rest said they could not comment.


"The US did us wrong. We demand protection from surveillance," says march participant Don Cheng, 46, a middle school teacher. "Snowden should be allowed to stay in Hong Kong if he wants."


The crowd has started to make their way to the US consulate. The current estimate is 300 to 350 people.


Why are you at the rally today?



"We show our support for Snowden for sacrificing his personal freedom for us," says lawmaker Albert Ho. He added that Snowden should be allowed to stay in Hong Kong until he finds a safe third country.

We demand an explanation from US President Barack Obama for surveillance in other countries, Ho said. "We demand an apology. The minimum the Hong Kong government should do is uphold the rule of law."


"There are unconfirmed reports that Snowden has started negotiations with the Beijing government," says lawmaker Claudia Mo, "if this is true, he has just swapped one big brother for another."


"Hong Kong was free because of our connection with Western governments. Now Snowden cannot count on that. He can only count on the strength of the Hong Kong civil society," says Ip Lam-chong, of In-Media HK, a group formed by freelance journalists.


An SCMP reader submitted this photo from the rally. Send yours to [email protected]




About 200 to 250 people are at Chater Garden, where a rally will be held to kick off the march.



Speakers who are scheduled for the rally include: 

Chater Garden:

  • Albert Ho, chairman of HK Alliance & ex-Democratic Party leader: "Why this case is important for HK's future"
  • Ip lam Chong, In-Media HK: “The implications of Edward Snowden coming to Hong Kong”
  • Claudia Mo, Legco member, founding member of Civic Party: “Whistleblowers and free speech in HK”

US Consulate:

  • Charles Mok, Legco member: “The right to communicate safely online and freedom of expression”

Hong Kong government headquarters:

  • Law Yuk Kai, director, HK Human Rights Monitor: “Hong Kong’s legal system & international legal system"
  • Ronny Tong, Civic Party, Legco member



Lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan arrives at Chater Garden for the rally, said organisers. He is set to speak at 3.10pm.

Ho, who is also a barrister, told CNN on Friday that he was joining the rally because "it is an important moment, where our legal system will be put to test". 




The route Snowden marchers are expected to take in the afternoon. 

View 6月15日聲援斯諾登遊行 HK June 15 Rally to Support Edward Snowden in a larger map


Organisers of Saturday's afternoon Snowden march have posted open letters that they will try to hand to the US consulate and the Hong Kong government. 

To Consul General Steve Young: "We are a peaceful coalition of 27 civil society organizations from Hong Kong writing to express our grave concern regarding revelations of Internet and telephone communications surveillance of US and non-US citizens by the US government. We request you to stop running these surveillance programs against innocent internet users in Hong Kong and around the world..."

To Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying: "We request the Hong Kong government to afford Mr Edward Snowden protection under Hong Kong law and all international legal covenants to which we are party to..."



Eight members of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong marched from Chater Garden to the US consulate on Saturday morning, demanding the US government to stop hacking the city’s computers.

They said that former CIA analyst Edward Snowden’s accusations were serious and that US representatives should give an explanation to the Hong Kong public.

It was revealed in a South China Morning Post report that the US National Security Agency had hacked into computers in Hong Kong and on the mainland. One target was Chinese University.

DAB lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king said they were unpleased that no one from the consulate received their petition. “That shows the US government is not respecting Hongkongers who are very concerned about Snowden’s accusations,” she said.

On whether Hong Kong should extradite Snowden to the US if requested, she said it was too early to judge.

Another protest organised by internet users will be held at 3pm.



Organisers of a Support Edward Snowden march said they expected 200 activists from more than 20 local groups to join, according to the march's website (earlier this post 13 groups). The protest, starting at 3pm at Chater Garden in Central, will see the activists march to the US consulate in Garden Road before continuing to the government headquarters in Admiralty, where the 2½-hour demonstration is expected to conclude.

Pan-democratic lawmakers Albert Ho Chun-yan, Charles Mok, and Claudia Mo Man-ching are among those who have agreed to address the protest as a show of solidarity against Snowden's extradition to the US.

Reporting by Ada Lee, Patrick Boehler, Jeremy Blum and Vicky Feng