Edward Snowden backers beam calls for pardon on Washington news museum
Activists display almost 4,000 notes from backers on the side of the Newseum, an institution celebrating free speech near the White House
Edward Snowden has been the subject of several high-profile appeals this year, calling on Barack Obama to pardon the National Security Agency whistleblower and allow him to return home to the US. Writers, intelligence experts, film stars and tech tycoons have all joined the chorus.
Now the most audacious display of support for Snowden is under way. Messages calling for his pardon are being beamed on to the outside wall of the Newseum, the Washington institution devoted to freedom of speech and the press that stands less than two miles from the White House.
The event is a guerrilla action carried out without the knowledge or approval of the Newseum itself, though the organisers of the stunt from the Pardon Snowden campaign are hoping they will be given a sympathetic reception.
We sincerely hope that the Newseum supports what we are doing as an affirmation of the significance of a free press, Noa Yachot, the campaigns director, told the Guardian before the event.
Almost 4,000 messages backing Snowdens decision to expose mass government surveillance of emails and phone calls have been gathered by the campaign, from across the US and around the world.
The messages include this one, from Casey: Im a 69-year-old vet and applaud your guts, we owe you lots and lets hope you can come home to your family and friends.
And this, from Tess: Ed, Im on your side. Youre a hero and an example of what it means to be an American. Thank you for making such an incredible sacrifice in order that we might move a bit more toward the truth.
Frank offers: True patriotism: speaking up when your government loses its moral compass.
The messages are being projected onto the 74ft-high marble tablet that is attached to the facade of the Newseum and which has the words of the first amendment carved into it.
Written in 1791 as part of the bill of rights, it states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Saturday nights action in Washington comes at a critical time for Snowden, who remains in exile in Russia where he has been granted asylum, having been charged in the US with offences under the Espionage Act.