Hundreds marched through Hong Kong streets on Saturday, shouting slogans in support of Edward Snowden outside the United States consulate and local government headquarters.
Organized by a group of 27 “civil society organizations,” they are backing the former National Security Agency contractor responsible for leaking information that showed the US is monitoring cellphone and Internet traffic.
“We’re rallying in order not to disappoint him and to ask Hong Kong to protect his well-being, not to extradite him, and to uphold Hong Kong law,” protest organizer Tom Grundy told CNN.
Organizers said they invited 14,000 people to attend, and estimated the crowd at about 900. Police said about 300 attended, shouting “NSA has no say” and “defend free speech, protect Snowden.”
The 29-year-old computer system administrator went underground after leaking the data to the Washington Post and The Guardian; however, he’s thought to be still living in Hong Kong.
He retreated there because of its political freedoms and judiciary system.
More from GlobalPost: Inside the ‘authoritarian’ United States
“My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate,” Snowden told the South China Morning Post this week. “I have been given no reason to doubt your system.”
Saturday’s protest organizers also penned an open letter to the American Ambassador to Hong Kong, Steve Young.
In it, they ask the US government to stop its spying operation, code named PRISM.
“No citizen should be deprived of the right to communicate their personal thoughts,” the letter says at Supportsnowden.org.
“The idea of mass surveillance not only violates the right to privacy and human dignity, but threatens the very fundamental human rights of freedom of thought, opinion, expression and association.”
The groups also see Snowden as a “litmus test” for the Hong Kong and Chinese governments, Time Magazine reported.
After retaking control of Hong Kong from the British in 1997, many there worry China is going back on its “one country, two systems” promise.
Some in Hong Kong say China’s communist government is attempting to erode the region’s free press and independent justice system, Time said.
China is also pushing for “national education” in schools and will begin screening political candidates, and how they play the Snowden situation could give some indication of Hong Kong's future.
More from GlobalPost: Why Edward Snowden’s flight to Hong Kong just might be brilliant