A court ruling has deemed the NSA’s (National Security Agency) program of mass surveillance of US citizens to be illegal.
The program was exposed seven years ago by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor. Snowden, who has been living in Russia since and still has charges of espionage in the US, said on Twitter:
“Seven years ago, as the news declared I was being charged as a criminal for speaking the truth, I never imagined that I would live to see our courts condemn the NSA’s activities as unlawful and in the same ruling credit me for exposing them. And yet that day has arrived.”
The ruling by The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit determined that the NSA’s program violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They added that the program may have been unconstitutional. Prior to Snowden’s report, US intelligence officials had repeatedly denied any kind of surveillance by the NSA on US citizens.
Following the release of evidence of a huge database telephone records, officials defended the NSA’s actions by suggesting they were vital in fighting extremism within the US. They pointed to the case of Basaaly Saeed Moalin, Ahmed Nasir Taalil Mohamud, Mohamed Mohamud, and Issa Doreh, who were convicted in 2013, supposedly with help of the NSA’s database. However, Wednesday’s ruling suggested that these claims are “inconsistent with the contents of the classified record.” The convictions will not, however, be affected by the ruling.
The American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement: “Today’s ruling is a victory for our privacy rights… (the ruling) makes plain that the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records violated the constitution.”