Amnesty International is taking legal action against British security services, claiming that sensitive emails and calls have been illegally intercepted.
The human rights charity said it was “highly likely” that sensitive communications had been accessed by the UK intelligence services.
Revelations from the US whistleblower Edward Snowden, first published by the Guardian and Washington Post in June, exposed the extent of blanket surveillance by the US and UK governments. In a statement, Amnesty International said that the law as it stands does not protect the human rights of those affected.
“In the face of such secret and extensive programmes of mass surveillance the current legal framework governing surveillance in the UK is woefully inadequate and urgently needs reform,” said Michael Bochenek, director of law and policy at Amnesty International.
“As a global organisation working on many sensitive issues that would be of particular interest to security services in the USA and UK, we are deeply troubled by the prospect that the communications of our staff may have been intercepted.”
This latest challenge follows legal action from three of Britain’s privacy organisations, who are taking GCHQ to the European court, alleging that it has acted illegally by breaching the privacy of millions of British and EU citizens and broken article eight – right to privacy – of the EU human rights act.
The current legal framework governing surveillance in the UK is woefully inadequate and urgently needs reform. Michael Bochenek, Amnesty
Amnesty believes that the global and often sensitive nature of its work means it is likely to have been of interest to intelligence agencies, and would have been intercepted.
According to a series of revelations from Mr Snowden, a former NSA contract worker, the US and the UK governments have in place blanket surveillance programmes that can access vast swathes of data, online and via phone communications. In Britain, GCHQ is also alleged to have shared data with the American NSA.
Amnesty is issuing the claim in the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT), arguing that the activities of the UK authorities are in breach of article eight and article 10 (right to freedom of expression) of the Human Rights Act.
The IPT usually acts in secret, but Amnesty has requested that the tribunal holds a public hearing into the claims.