Metro bus ad thanks NSA leaker Edward Snowden - KMSP-TV

Metro bus ad thanks NSA leaker Edward Snowden

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WASHINGTON -

NSA leaker Edward Snowden may be thousands of miles away in Russia, but his face will soon be on a Metro bus in D.C.

It is part of a controversial ad campaign by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, with the message "Thank You, Edward Snowden."

The ad is sure to turn a few heads. Snowden is a fugitive from the U.S. government and his leaks about the NSA's surveillance program has led to troubling revelations about U.S. spying. Not everyone thinks he deserves thanks.

"It's annoying. On the other hand, this is what America is about -- freedom of speech -- something he's not going to find in Russia," said Rick Warfield, a Metro customer.

The group that paid for the ad said it believes Snowden "provided a critical public service by igniting a public debate about the government's massive secret spying program."

The signs will go on both sides of the bus as well as the back. Like it or not, the group paid for the bus ads and Metro can't stop it.

"The courts have determined we are a public forum. You have to allow it. Obviously we don't support necessarily what the opinions that are expressed in these advertisings," said Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles.

It's not the first time Metro has been in this kind of quandary. Last month, an ad appeared at a Metro station near D.C. Superior Court encouraging people to hang the jury. That came after a court battle over another ad by a pro-Israel group that equates Muslim radicals with savages. Metro wanted to delay posting that ad, but lost.

In this case, the ad is on a bus and the chances of seeing it may actually be slim. It will be on only one bus, out of 1,500 in Metro's fleet. That bus will run out of the Northern division bus garage and travel on routes from there. That covers a wide area, including Fort Totten, Petworth, and Brookland, down 14th Street and Georgia Avenue to name a few possibilities.

"I don't like it. I can't accept it, but if I see it, I'll just turn my head from it," said James Stevens, who was waiting for a bus.

The group that bought the ad is calling on people to join it to say "thank you" to Snowden. Its website has nearly 14,000 thank you’s so far. And once the ad starts running, it will be out on the streets for four weeks for all eyes to see.

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