Amnesty International issued the following today:
Former US intelligence contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden’s
latest allegations point to a very real risk that human rights
defenders, including Amnesty International staff, have been the targets
of mass surveillance by the US and British spy agencies.
who is living in exile in Moscow, made the remarks this afternoon via
videoconference to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
(PACE) in Strasbourg, France.
When asked if the US National
Security Agency (NSA) or its British counterpart Government
Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) were actively spying on human rights
organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and
others, he said: “Without question, yes, absolutely …The NSA has in fact
specifically targeted the communications of either leaders or staff
members in a number of purely civil or human rights organizations of the
“These allegations, if substantiated, would
confirm our long-held fears that state intelligence agencies like the
NSA and GCHQ have been subjecting human rights organizations to mass
surveillance all along,” said Michael Bochenek, Senior Director of
International Law and Policy at Amnesty International.
raises the very real possibility that our communications with
confidential sources have been intercepted. Sharing this information
with other governments could put human rights defenders the world over
in imminent danger. When these concerns were raised before the US
Supreme Court, they were dismissed as being ‘speculative’. Snowden’s
latest revelation shows that these concerns are far from theoretical –
they are a very real possibility.
“We now need a full and frank
disclosure of the extent of these surveillance programmes as well as
water-tight legal guarantees against such indiscriminate surveillance in