Reuters International

Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei walks to the stage to speak at the Council on Foreign Relations in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., November 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

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LONDON (Reuters) - Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has joined an Amnesty International campaign to encourage people to write messages supporting 11 people, including former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, the rights group said on Friday.

In its "Write for Rights" campaign, Amnesty International is asking supporters to write to authorities to highlight human rights cases. The group said the campaign is focussing on 11 cases this year, including a jailed Egyptian photojournalist as well as Snowden.

Ai, one of China's most high-profile artists and political activists, has created 11 portraits out of Lego for each case.

"For Edward Snowden, we're asking people to write to Barack Obama in the final days of his presidency," Amnesty International campaigner May Carolan said. "Because Barack Obama has a unique opportunity to grant Edward a pardon that will enable him to return to his country as a free man."

Snowden fled the United States in 2013 after leaking details about the U.S. government's surveillance programmes and was granted asylum in Russia.

U.S. officials have previously said Washington will not budge on its demand that Snowden face prosecution for stealing thousands of classified intelligence documents.

(Reporting By Georgina Cooper, editing by Larry King)

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