U.S. and U.K. Targeted WikiLeaks With Surveillance and Political Pressure, Documents Show

February 18, 2014 12:49 pm

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NEW YORK – The U.S. government pushed other countries to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and Britain’s spy agency GCHQ collected data on everyone visiting the website, according to report today by The Intercept. The article, based on documents from Edward Snowden, also said that the NSA was considering ways to spy on the hacking group Anonymous and users of the file-sharing site Pirate Bay, even if the intercepted communications were only between Americans.

“This is a very troubling report,” said Jameel Jaffer, American Civil Liberties Union deputy legal director. “Publishers who disclose abuses of government power should not be subjected to invasive surveillance for having done so, and individuals should not be swept up into surveillance dragnets simply because they’ve visited websites that report on those abuses. Further, the United States should not be urging allied countries to pursue prosecutions that would be unconstitutional if undertaken here at home.”

There have been several instances in which people associated with WikiLeaks have been targeted by the U.S. government. One was David House, who had his laptop confiscated and searched because of his connection with the Bradley Manning Support Network. Another was Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of Iceland’s parliament who had her Twitter account records subpoenaed because of her support of WikiLeaks. The ACLU represented both of them in lawsuits challenging the government’s actions as unconstitutional.

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