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EU Parliament Committee Slams NSA, Votes to Hear Snowden

Posted on Jan 9, 2014
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The National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Md.

The U.S. National Security Agency and its U.K. equivalent, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), were the targets of sharp condemnation by a European Union parliamentary committee on civil liberties, which released a report Thursday slamming the two agencies for their invasive surveillance programs in Europe and calling for systemic changes.

The committee also voted to allow embattled whistle-blower Edward Snowden to testify before the EU parliament, despite predictable push-back from the U.S. government. Here’s more on the panel’s findings from The Guardian:

The inquiry by the European parliament’s civil liberties committee says the activities of America’s National Security Agency (NSA) and its British counterpart, GCHQ, appear to be illegal and that their operations have “profoundly shaken” the trust between countries that considered themselves allies.

The 51-page draft report, obtained by the Guardian, was discussed by the committee on Thursday. Claude Moraes, the rapporteur asked to assess the impact of revelations made by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, also condemns the “chilling” way journalists working on the stories have been intimidated by state authorities.

Though Snowden is still in Russia, MEPs are expected to take evidence from him via video-link in the coming weeks, as the European parliament continues to assess the damage from the disclosures.

Committee MEPs voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to have Snowden testify, defying warnings from key US congressmen that giving the “felon” a public platform would wreck the European parliament’s reputation and hamper co-operation with Washington.

The report also strongly recommends that the U.S. government alter its laws to more closely correspond to international law and “recognize the privacy and other rights of EU citizens.”

—Posted by Kasia Anderson

 

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