The FBI and NSA spied on the emails of five high-profile Muslim Americans in an effort to identify security threats, documents leaked by fugitive ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden show.
The targets include a lawyer, professor and a political operative, according to a report published in the Intercept.
The Intercept is an online news site overseen by Glenn Greenwald, who helped publish many of Edward Snowden’s leaks.
The FBI and NSA said they only spied on Americans when they had probable cause.
“The National Security Agency and FBI have covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans… under secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies,” according to The Intercept report.
According to the report – the result of a three-month investigation using classified documents obtained from Edward Snowden – all five individuals have denied involvement in terrorist activities.
The NSA and Department of Justice quickly responded to the report, saying emails of Americans are only accessed if there is probable cause.
“It is entirely false that US intelligence agencies conduct electronic surveillance of political, religious or activist figures solely because they disagree with public policies or criticize the government, or for exercising constitutional rights,” the agencies wrote in a joint statement.
The White House has ordered a review of national security agencies in the wake of the allegations, however.
Faisal Gill is a Pakistani-born lawyer, a Republican Party operative and former Department of Homeland Security employee (photo ABC News)
“Upon learning of this matter, the White House immediately requested that the Director of National Intelligence undertake an assessment of Intelligence Community policies, training standards or directives that promote diversity and tolerance,” White House national security spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said on Wednesday.
“The use of racial or ethnic stereotypes, slurs, or other similar language” is not acceptable, she added.
Several dozen civil liberties groups have also spoken out against the allegations made in The Intercept report, urging President Barack Obama to provide a full public accounting of domestic surveillance.
It is not the first time US agencies have been accused of snooping on Americans. Previous documents leaked by Edward Snowden indicate the electronic files of thousands of citizens were scanned by the NSA.
Last year, Edward Snowden – a former NSA contractor now residing in Russia – fed a trove of secret NSA documents to news outlets including the Washington Post and the Guardian, where Glenn Greenwald worked.
The Congress has attempted to curb online snooping in the wake of the snooping revelations, with the House of Representatives passing legislation to that effect in mid-June.
The measure, added to a $570 billion defense spending bill, would bar the NSA from collecting Americans’ personal online information without a warrant.
Earlier this year the House also passed the USA Freedom Act that would limit the NSA’s bulk data collection and storage of some American landline telephone call records.
Those allegedly spied on include:
- Faisal Gill, a Pakistani-born lawyer, a Republican Party operative and former Department of Homeland Security employee
- Asim Ghafoor, a lawyer who represented clients in terrorism-related cases
- Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor at Rutgers University
- Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University
- Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations [youtube J3hsr3q69eU 650] [youtube Hzkqz5fsp18 650]
Glenn Greenwald – The Guardian journalist who broke the Snowden leaks story – is to join a new media project being set up by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
Glenn Greenwald confirmed he was leaving The Guardian for the mass media outlet being planned by French-born billionaire Pierre Omidyar.
Laura Poitras, the documentary-maker who connected Glenn Greenwald with Edward Snowden, is also expected to join.
Edward Snowden leaked details of US government surveillance programmes.
He is now living in Russia, where he was granted temporary asylum after fleeing Hong Kong in June, shortly after the revelations were published.
On Wednesday, British PM David Cameron accused The Guardian of having knowingly compromised national security by publishing the leaks.
Glenn Greenwald is to join a new media project being set up by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar
Glenn Greenwald, a US citizen based in Brazil, insists that none of the information he published could have damaged national security.
Announcing his new project in a statement, Pierre Omidyar said he wanted to support “independent journalists in a way that leverages their work to the greatest extent possible, all in support of the public interest”.
His project, he said, was in its early stages but he had approached Glenn Greenwald and found that he and fellow Americans Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, an investigative journalist, were already contemplating something similar.
“We had a lot of overlap in terms of our ideas, and decided to join forces,” said Pierre Omidyar.
Pierre Omidyar said his new outlet would be independent of other media with the focus on allowing independent journalists to “pursue the truth in their fields”.
“And, I want to find ways to convert mainstream readers into engaged citizens,” he said in the statement.
Pierre Omidyar’s existing projects include the US-based Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm which operates in some of Africa’s most troubled countries.
Forbes magazine estimated Pierre Omidyar ‘s net worth to be $8.5 billion (6.3 billion euros) last month.
Announcing his departure in a statement on Tuesday, Glenn Greenwald said he was embarking on a “once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity”.
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Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian journalist who covered data leaked by Edward Snowden, has announced he is leaving the British newspaper.
Glenn Greenwald said he was departing to take up a “dream” opportunity.
He told Buzzfeed website he would be involved in a “new, large-scale… media outlet”.
In a statement posted online, Glenn Greenwald said the news of this “momentous new venture” had been leaked before he had planned to announce it so he was not able to provide further details, but that it would be unveiled shortly.
“My partnership with the Guardian has been extremely fruitful and fulfilling: I have high regard for the editors and journalists with whom I worked and am incredibly proud of what we achieved,” Glenn Greenwald said.
Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian journalist who covered data leaked by Edward Snowden, has announced he is leaving the British newspaper
The Guardian‘s Jennifer Lindauer said: “Glenn Greenwald is a remarkable journalist and it has been fantastic working with him.
“Our work together over the last year has demonstrated the crucial role that responsible investigative journalism can play in holding those in power to account.”
Glenn Greenwald has been fiercely criticized for his work with Edward Snowden, who is wanted in the US on espionage charges and is living under asylum in Russia.
However, Glenn Greenwald, who is a lawyer by training, said during an interview that none of the information he had published in the Guardian could have damaged national security.
In August, Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda, who lives with the journalist in Rio de Janeiro, was held for nine hours at Heathrow under anti-terror laws. Police seized a number of electronic items he was carrying.
British Home Secretary Theresa May defended the move, saying the police had to act if someone had “highly sensitive, stolen information”.
David Miranda denied any wrongdoing.
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Brazil announces it will demand an explanation from the US after allegations that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on Brazilian government communications.
The allegations were made by Rio-based journalist Glenn Greenwald in a programme on TV Globo on Sunday.
Glenn Greenwald obtained secret files from whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
Communications from the Mexican president were also accessed by the NSA, Glenn Greenwald said.
Glenn Greenwald, a columnist for the Guardian newspaper, told TV Globo’s news programme Fantastico that secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden showed how US agents had spied on communications between aides of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff.
Brazil’s Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo said that “if these facts prove to be true, it would be unacceptable and could be called an attack on our country’s sovereignty”.
According to the report, the NSA also used a program to access all internet content that President Dilma Rousseff visited online.
Edward Snowden’s documents showed how US agents had spied on communications between aides of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff
The report also alleges that the NSA monitored the communications of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto before he was elected.
Glenn Greenwald said that a document dating from June 2012 showed that Enrique Pena Nieto’s emails were being read.
A spokesman for the Mexican foreign ministry told the Agence France Presse news agency that he had seen the report but had no comment.
The documents were provided to Glenn Greenwald by ex-US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, who was granted temporary asylum in Russia after leaking secret information to media in the US and Britain.
Glenn Greenwald was the first journalist to reveal the secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden on June 6. Since then, he has written a series of stories about surveillance by US and UK authorities.
The detention last month for nine hours at London’s Heathrow airport of Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, caused widespread controversy in the UK and abroad.
Glenn Greenwald said the detention of his partner amounted to “bullying” and was “clearly intended to send a message of intimidation” to those working on the NSA revelations.
The British government said that it was right for the police to act if they believed that someone had “highly sensitive stolen information”.