Hong Kong protesters brave rain to support Snowden

HONG KONG - With colourful placards and shrill whistles, hundreds of Hong Kong residents turned out in the rain on Saturday afternoon in a march calling on the city's government not to extradite United States whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

They also slammed the US government for its "hypocrisy" in blaming China for cyberhacking, even as the US itself has been conducting surveillance on computers in Hong Kong and China since 2009 according to allegations made by Mr Snowden.

Organised by a coalition of civic groups, including a media website, political parties and trade unions, the march started at Chater Garden in the Central District of Hong Kong before it moved on to the heavily guarded US consulate in Garden Road. There, the protesters handed a letter addressed to Consul-general Steve Young, decrying the "violation of human rights of people of Hong Kong and around the world".

Two hours later when the march reached Tamar, where the Hong Kong government offices are located, the crowd had swelled to 900.

One of them, undergraduate Veronica Fung, 20, said: "I'm worried about our privacy and security, and I believe that US government owes us an explanation. So I'm here today. I'm also here to show Mr Snowden that he is not alone here."

Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun Ying has to date remained silent on how the government - which has an extradition treaty with the US - will deal with the case. The security bureau had earlier told The Straits Times that it will be "handled in accordance with the laws of Hong Kong".

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