|Demonstrators hold placards and banners to protest against government surveillance in Washington D.C., capital of the United Sates, on Oct. 26, 2013. Hundreds gathered here on Saturday demanding the U.S. Congress to investigate the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) mass surveillance programs, ban blanket surveillance of telephone and Internet activity, and pursue accountability for any officials who misled lawmakers and the American people. (Xinhua/Fang Zhe)
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of people rallied in Washington D.C. Saturday to protest cyber surveillance of the National Security Agency (NSA).
They marched from the Union Station to the Capitol around noon, protesting a classified intelligence project code-named PRISM of the NSA, demanding the Obama government stop such practice. They carried banners saying "Stop Spying," "Stop Watching Us," and "Thank You Edward Snowden."
The demonstrators also have collected more than half a million signatures on a letter asking for Congress to stop such practice.
The event was organized by a coalition of groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and FreedomWorks.
Saturday's protest coincided with the 12th anniversary of the Patriot Act, which was passed in 2001 to improve anti-terrorism efforts and is now under scrutiny by privacy advocates who say it allows "dragnet" data gathering.
The surveillance program, which Washington said was crucial for its national interests, had also stirred up anger outside the United States.
The European leaders gathered for a summit Thursday on the back of reports of the U.S. NSA spying on French nationals' communications and eavesdropping on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone.
In an unusually sharply-worded statement, Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said Merkel had called U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday after receiving information about the alleged spying.
However, the White House denied tapping Merkel's mobile phone, saying that the United States "is not monitoring and will not monitor" the communications of the chancellor, according to spokesman Jay Camey.
Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Tuesday met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, reiterating France's request for an explanation regarding the "unacceptable" spying practices, said the French Foreign Ministry in a statement.
Germany's Spiegel earlier reported the NSA illegally accessed the email account of then Mexican President Felipe Calderonn in 2010, citing documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Other revelations from Snowden showed the NSA had also spied on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto before he was elected in June 2012.
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