While over in the states, the anti-NSA groups are beginning to find their feet, here in the UK the revelations of government spying are getting worse and worse. It now looks like intelligence agency GCHQ, might be spying on the privileged emails between lawyers and their clients.
Alleged as part of a court case between several Libyans and the British government over compensation, the claim was made with the investigatory powers tribunal, the only organisation in the UK that is capable of investigating other British intelligence agencies, like MI5 and GCHQ. While similar defendants have already received payments from the government (though no admission of guilt), the lawyers representing the Libyans believe their case will be impossible to fairly hear, since GCHQ and others are able to intercept their secretive and protected communications.
This is less than five miles from me. I can only imagine the amount of surveillance on such a hard hitting journalist as myself.
“There is a strong likelihood that the respondents have intercepted and are intercepting the applicants' legally privileged communications in respect of the [cases],” reads the claim. It also accused GCHQ of using the Tempora scheme – which operates in a similar manner to the NSA's PRISM project – to allow for mass collection of data, on what it describes as a “blanket basis.”
It cites Guardian published documents as evidence for its claims, as well as the legal protection of lawyer to client communications, which: “cannot be disclosed at all. It recognises the client's fundamental human right to be candid with his legal adviser, without fear of later disclosure to his prejudice. It is an absolute right and cannot be overidden by any other interest.”
In the trial itself, the government stands accused of handing over the Libyans to Colonel Guddafi's regime back in 2004, as a gesture of good will with a reduction in the then Libyan leader's nuclear weapons program. It's alleged that those men were then tortured – having been previous political dissents within Libya.
Cori Cryder, head of the human rights group Reprieve, said: “It is bad enough that UK security services helped kidnap and render young children and a pregnant woman into the hands of Colonel Gaddafi.
“To add insult to injury, they are now trying to undermine their right to a fair trial by spying on private communications with their lawyers. UK complicity in Gaddafi's torture of his opponents is a shameful incident that needs to be opened up to public scrutiny – not subject to more skulduggery from GCHQ.”
The mens' lawyers and Reprieve want all details of the case made public, to help show what sort of influence and surveillance GCHQ is participating in.
KitGuru Says: I'm so glad I'm not the only one who finds this blanket surveillance worrying. It really did seem for a while that the whole world was fine with everyone knowing everything about them.