Activists supporting former NSA contractor Edward Snowden will visit the Washington, D.C, embassies of Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela on Thursday to thank the countries for offering asylum to the fugitive whistleblower.
Snowden is currently believed to be in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport. He initially fled to Hong Kong before releasing top secret documents in June that exposed massive NSA phone and Internet surveillance programs.
"We're going to be chanting and carrying on," Susan Udry, executive director of the Defending Dissent Foundation, told U.S. News. "I think we want to have good manners and thank these countries that are willing to stand up to the United States when other countries backed down."
CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin told U.S. News the activists want to thank the countries that "stood up to the U.S. strong-arming them."
"We will hopefully have some interaction with people at the embassy," Benjamin said. "We've written 'Thank You' cards that people have signed and we're going to give some talks about why we're there."
Organizers expect around 20 participants, with representatives of the DDF and CODEPINK being joined by members of the Institute for Policy Studies, Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition, Restore the 4th D.C. and School of the Americas Watch.
After visiting the three embassies in northwest Washington, the activists will head to the Justice Department's headquarters to picket in favor of Snowden.
"The three embassies are more of a celebration – we'll have flowers and cards – but when we get to the Justice Department it will be more somber," Benjamin said.
Udry and Benjamin both acknowledged that the three countries lack perfect human rights records themselves.
Organizers debated including Ecuador's embassy on the list, but ultimately decided against doing so. Ecuador initially appeared a promising option for Snowden and the country canceled a trade deal with the U.S. that it had been lobbying in favor of, citing U.S. "blackmail." But Ecuador's government has since cooled on Snowden, and has repeatedly said he must first arrive in the country before applying for asylum.
If Snowden is somehow extradited to the United States, Benjamin - a fixture of anti-war protests during the Bush administration - predicts a significant display of public anger.
"Oh my goodness, I think it would really spark a movement that just needs one little match," she said, pointing to poll results that indicate suspicion of the NSA programs. "Many people are potentially ready to be activated to support not just Edward Snowden, but support a movement that would win back many of the rights we've lost since 9/11."