Website closing on 1.5m signatures declaring support for Edward Snowden

Avaaz.org’s petition attracting signatures at rate of more than one every second

Newspapers in Moscw are distributed with photographs of former US whistleblower  Edward Snowden. Photograph: Reuters

Newspapers in Moscw are distributed with photographs of former US whistleblower Edward Snowden. Photograph: Reuters

Tue, Jul 2, 2013, 23:34

A campaigning website was approaching its target of 1.5 million signatures last night as people around the world declared their support for US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

Avaaz.org - the word means voice in several languages - was set up in 2007 in order to, as it says itself, “organize citizens of all nations to close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want”. On June 12th, it declared its support for Snowden, urging its followers to sign a petition calling on US president Barack Obama to cease its pursuit of him and dismantle the Prism eavesdropping programme he exposed.

The petition reads: “We call on you to ensure that whistleblower Edward Snowden is treated fairly, humanely and given due process. The Prism program is one of the greatest violations of privacy ever committed by a government. We demand that you terminate it immediately, and that Edward Snowden be recognized as a whistleblower acting in the public interest -- not as a dangerous criminal.”

As of late last night, the petition had been e-signed by 1.3 million people, with signatures being added at a rate of almost two per second.

Avaaz.org says that Snowden has just given up “his whole life” - “his girlfriend, his job, and his home - to blow the whistle on the US government’s shocking Prism program, which has been reading and recording our emails, Skype messages, Facebook posts and phone calls for years. . . If millions of us stand with Edward in the next 48 hours, it will send a powerful statement that he should be treated like the brave whistleblower that he is, and it should be PRISM, and not Edward, that the US cracks down on”.

Avaaz claims to “empower millions of people from all walks of life to take action on pressing global, regional and national issues, from corruption and poverty to conflict and climate change” by rapidly combining many individuals into a “powerful collective force”. The organisation claims a membership of 24.1 million members worldwide.