FILE PHOTO: Edward Snowden gestures as he speaks via livestream at Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, November 4, 2019.
(Reuters) - Seven years after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the mass surveillance of Americans’ telephone records, an appeals court has found the program was unlawful - and that the U.S. intelligence leaders who publicly defended it were not telling the truth.
In a ruling handed down on Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said the warrantless telephone dragnet that secretly collected millions of Americans’ telephone records violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and may well have been unconstitutional.
“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,” Snowden said in a message posted to Twitter.
Up until that moment, top intelligence officials publicly insisted the NSA never knowingly collected information on Americans at all.
The ruling will not affect the convictions of Moalin and his fellow defendants; the court ruled the illegal surveillance did not taint the evidence introduced at their trial.
Nevertheless, watchdog groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, which helped bring the case to appeal, welcomed the judges’ verdict on the NSA’s spy program. »