An American court finds that the large-scale wiretapping program of the NSA National Security Agency, unveiled in 2013 by whistleblower Edward Snowden, is illegal.
Moreover, the information officers who defended the programme did not tell the truth, according to the Court of Appeal.
In Wednesday’s ruling, the court states that the unauthorized wiretap trawl used to collect the phone records of millions of Americans violates U.S. intelligence legislation and possibly also the Constitution.
Snowden went to Russia after revealing the surveillance activities at The Washington Post and The Guardian, and was granted asylum there. He’s still being charged with espionage charges in the United States.
On Twitter, Snowden said that the verdict justifies his decision to release the listening program.
”I never imagined that I would ever experience our courts condemning the activities of the NSA as unlawful and praising me for revealing them, ” said Snowden.
The evidence that the NSA had secretly created a vast database of phone records was the first and most revealing revelation by Snowden. Until then, senior American intelligence officials have consistently denied that the NSA collected private data from U.S. citizens. After the disclosure, they took the excuse that espionage activities had played a crucial role in tracking down terrorists within the United States.
Intelligence officers stated that the eavesdropping allowed four residents of the city of San Diego to be condemned for supporting Muslim fundamentalists in Somalia. However, the Court of Appeal states that that allegation is not consistent with the secret file in that case. However, the four remain in prison because the illegal listening programme does not detract from the evidence against them.
The ACLU civil rights group welcomed the court’s ruling.
”Today’s verdict is a victory for our right to privacy,” said the ACLU. The statement “makes it clear that the NSA’s trawl is violating the Constitution,” says it.
Snowden also revealed in 2013 that the NSA collected data from internet users around the world. And continues to do it at even larger scale.