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Amnesty was target of GCHQ mass snooping

BRITAIN’S spy watchdog has admitted that security agencies snooped on Amnesty International.

Amnesty demanded an independent inquiry into why eavesdropping agency GCHQ had been spying on human rights organisations.

The investigatory powers tribunal notified Amnesty International on Wednesday that GCHQ had spied on the organisation by intercepting, accessing and storing its communications, despite previously having said the opposite.

The tribunal had said in a June 22 judgement that the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and South Africa-based Legal Resources Centre had been spied on, but revealed yesterday that it was actually Amnesty, not the Egyptians, that was targeted.

The revelation followed 18 months of litigation by Amnesty and others.

Amnesty International secretary-general Salil Shetty questioned how Amnesty could carry out its “crucial work” if victims of abuse feared their confidential correspondence would end up in the hands of governments.

“The revelation that the UK government has been spying on Amnesty International highlights the gross inadequacies in the UK’s surveillance legislation,” said Mr Shetty.

“If they hadn’t stored our communications for longer than they were allowed to, we would never even have known.

“What’s worse, this would have been considered perfectly lawful.”

It is not known when or why GCHQ targeted Amnesty.

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