After winning a landmark ruling against the UK’s GCHQ spy agency, activist groups praised former NSA contractor Edward Snowden for blowing the lid off the UK’s surveillance regime. Activists called yet again for his pardoning.
In a ruling issued on Tuesday morning, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) declared that GCHQ’s bulk interception of online communications, which was first brought to light by former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden in 2013, was illegal. GCHQ stands for Government Communications Headquarters.
In its findings, the ECHR found three “fundamental deficiencies” in the GCHQ’s interception process: it had been authorised by a politician and not an independent body, search terms that would be flagged by the spy agency had not been included in the application for a warrant, and search terms linked to individuals – for example names, email addresses, and phone numbers – had not been authorised internally prior to their use.
Former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, who published Snowden’s revelations in 2013 and destroyed hard drives belonging to the whistleblower rather than handing them over to the government, celebrated the ruling. “It’s taken a long time,” he tweeted, “but turns out @Snowden was right.”