Edward Snowden has written a letter to a 10-year-old African girl living with albinism and encouraged her to embrace the things that differentiates her from others.

Annie Alfred is among 7,000 to 10,000 albino people living in fear in Malawi as they are often targeted for their body parts, which are believed to have magical powers to cure diseases, bring good luck and prosperity.

In the letter Snowden wrote: "It is shameful that people are being persecuted for being different. Your differences are not weaknesses, they are strengths. No child should fear that her liberty to participate and live as she desires is subject to the superstition and prejudice of others."

Snowden shared his experiences of living in exile in Russia and urged Annie to defend her right to be different. "Never stop defending the right to be different, no matter how difficult the times. Each of us is a treasure of the earth, and perhaps you most of all."

Snowden wrote the letter as part of a day of action initiated by Amnesty International to help fight human rights violations through the power of words. The campaign was initiated to mark Human Rights Day on 10 December.

According to Amnesty, attacks against albinos in Malawi have been on the rise since November 2014. Malawi Police Service data showed there were 69 reported cases of crimes against people with albinism, including 18 killings and five abductions. The crimes also included removing bodies of deceased albinos from graves, according to Amnesty.

Edward Snowden
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has written a letter to a 10-year-old Malawi girl, Annie Alfred, who is among thousands of Africans who are targeted for being different - File photoGetty Images