Diverse Groups Join Lawsuit to Halt NSA Dragnet Surveillance of U.S. Citizens' Communications

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Posted July 24, 2013

Interview with Rev. Rick Hoyt, minister of the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles and one of 19 plaintiffs in Electronic Frontier Foundation NSA lawsuit, conducted by Scott Harris


Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who last month leaked details to newspapers about the U.S. spy agency’s massive collection of domestic and overseas phone and Internet communication records, remains in legal limbo at Moscow’s International airport. The Obama administration had revoked Snowden’s passport shortly before charging the 30-year-old former government defense contractor with three felonies: espionage, theft and conversion of government property. Now it appears that Russia may soon grant Snowden authorization to leave the airport transit zone, where he’s been stranded for a month, and move to new quarters in downtown Moscow. Although the governments of Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua have stated they would grant Snowden political asylum, none of these nations are served by direct commercial flights from Moscow.

While recent public opinion polls suggest that the majority of the nation believe Edward Snowden to be a whistle-blower and not a traitor – with large numbers of citizens saying that the government's anti-terrorism efforts go too far in restricting civil liberties – congressional leaders of both parties have allowed few challenges to the national surveillance state. But Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan is expected to introduce an amendment on July 24 that would end government authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act.

On the legal front, the Electronic Frontier Foundation initiated a lawsuit on July 16 to halt the U.S. National Security Agency’s massive collection of Americans communications data. The lawsuit includes a broad coalition of 19 plaintiffs, from civil liberties activists to church leaders and drug and gun rights advocates. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with one of the plaintiffs, Rev. Rick Hoyt, minister of the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, who explains why his congregation joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation NSA lawsuit.

For more news and commentary on challenges to the NSA surveillance programs, visit .

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