Thousands of people have gathered in Germany to protest against the alleged widespread surveillance of internet users by US intelligence services.

Protesters, responding to calls by a loose network calling itself ‘stopwatchingus’, went on the streets on Saturday to demonstrate in Hamburg, Munich, Berlin and up to 35 other German cities and towns.

Some wore tinfoil hats to shield themselves from the sun and make a political statement about warding off unwanted eavesdroppers.

Snowden support

Others held placards showing support for National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden, who revealed documents detailing the agency's extensive secret surveillance programme known as Prism.

The Prism revelations caused an international uproar against what many view as an invasion of privacy.

The scandal has been especially contentious in Germany after media reports claimed the NSA had conducted wide scale gathering of electronic data, including e-mails, of German citizens.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the issue of the NSA's alleged interception of Web traffic when US President Barack Obama visited Berlin last month.

But German opposition parties remain sceptical of the government's claim that it had known nothing about the surveillance.

Source: Agencies