Reprinted from The Washington Post
A free-speech advocacy group wants to show its appreciation to Edward Snowden, the former U.S. intelligence contractor who publicly disclosed secret surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency.
So the group purchased an ad. “Thank you Edward Snowden!” it reads. And it’ll soon be plastered on a Metro bus.
The Partnership for Civil Justice paid several thousand dollars for the ad to appear on three sides of one bus for a month, Metro said. The agency, which has lost legal challenges in the past after rejecting controversial advertising in the transit system, accepted the Snowden ad without objection, General Manager Richard Sarles said.
“The courts have found that we’re a public forum,” he said, “so we have to accept anyone that wants to put up an ad. … Obviously we don’t support, necessarily, what the opinions are that people express in these advertisements.”
Snowden is living in Russia under temporary asylum while the Justice Department tries to have him forcibly repatriated to stand to trial for allegedly violating the Espionage Act. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 60 percent of Americans — including clear majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents — think Snowden’s actions jeopardized U.S. security.
A Metro advertiser can choose a jurisdiction for its bus ad — the District, Maryland or Virginia — but the transit agency decides which bus will carry the message, based on space availability. The bus that will soon bear the Snowden ad is one that travels various routes on different days in the northern part of the District, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.
“The elites of D.C. may not ride the bus,” the group said on its Web site, “but they can’t avoid reading the bus!”