In a massive outpouring of support for the 29-year-old systems administrator behind last week's National Security Administration surveillance leak, hundreds of civil liberties advocates and concerned citizens are staging a mass demonstration in New York City's Union Square Monday at noon to declare: "I stand with Edward Snowden."
The demonstration follows revelations Sunday on the identity of the whistleblower, a contracted employee for the private defense company Booz Allen Hamilton, after he came forward in an interview with The Guardian newspaper. Snowden was the source behind the outlet's multiple breaking news stories on the NSA's massive surveillance mechanism.
Monday's solidarity protest is the first of many events planned in cities across the country as a "groundswell of concern for Snowden's welfare" has erupted in the wake of his confession, according to demonstration organizers.
Snowden is currently seeking refuge in Hong Kong and is facing a criminal investigation by the US Department of Justice, indicating that he may soon be seeking political asylum.
Organizers of Monday's event hope to elevate the conversation Snowden initiated regarding the preservation of 4th Amendment protections in this era of new media.
“The greatest fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change.” said Snowden in his Guardian interview. “People will see, in the media, all of these disclosures, they know the lengths that the government is going to grant themselves, unilaterally, to create greater control over American society, and global society, but they wont be willing to take the risks necessarily to stand up and fight to change things, to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interests.”
“Edward Snowden chose to willfully free dark side national security information as a brave and courageous act of selfless civil disobedience,” said former NSA executive director, Thomas Drake, who in 2010 was arrested under the US Espionage Act for publicly challenging a similar data-vacuuming project called Trailblaizer.
Ahead of the protest, many voiced their support for the new "hero" online.
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#istandwithedwardsnowden because id rather fight for security than be sheparded into peace through subservience.
— Reg Edo (@ImTheWidowMaker) June 10, 2013
— natalie solidarity (@constantnatalie) June 10, 2013
dear hong kong, please take good care of edward snowden. he is a hero. #istandwithedwardsnowden
— knobody (@knobody) June 10, 2013
#IStandWIthEdwardSnowden, because this surveillance state needs to be dismantled so people are free to speak, act and think without fear.
— Joe Bowser (@infil00p) June 10, 2013