NSA, GCHQ targeted WikiLeaks network

U.K. and U.S. governments used surveillance and political pressure against publishers of government abuses


Natasha Lennard
February 18, 2014 11:31PM (UTC)

The latest report from the Intercept based on Edward Snowden's NSA leaks reveals how the NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ targeted WikiLeaks and its supporters. The report details how the U.S. and U.K. governments deployed surveillance tools against WikiLeaks networks and supporters, while pressuring international governments to persecute the organization's founder, Julian Assange, over the publication of the Afghanistan war logs. The documents also show that the NSA considered ways to spy on Anonymous affiliates and hackers as well as users of file-sharing site Pirate Bay.

The documents are some of the most significant to come to light yet in highlighting the government's engagement in what Snowden's attorney Jesselyn Raddack has long called a "war on information." Publishers and activists have been specifically targeted for making public otherwise secrecy-shrouded instances of abuses of power by the government and the military. “This is a very troubling report,” said Jameel Jaffer, American Civil Liberties Union deputy legal director. “Publishers who disclose abuses of government power should not be subjected to invasive surveillance for having done so, and individuals should not be swept up into surveillance dragnets simply because they’ve visited websites that report on those abuses."

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Via The Intercept:

The efforts – detailed in documents provided previously by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – included a broad campaign of international pressure aimed not only at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but at what the U.S. government calls “the human network that supports WikiLeaks.” The documents also contain internal discussions about targeting the file-sharing site Pirate Bay and hacktivist collectives such as Anonymous.

One classified document from Government Communications Headquarters, Britain’s top spy agency, shows that GCHQ used its surveillance system to secretly monitor visitors to a WikiLeaks site. By exploiting its ability to tap into the fiber-optic cables that make up the backbone of the Internet, the agency confided to allies in 2012, it was able to collect the IP addresses of visitors in real time, as well as the search terms that visitors used to reach the site from search engines like Google.

Another classified document from the U.S. intelligence community, dated August 2010, recounts how the Obama administration urged foreign allies to file criminal charges against Assange over the group’s publication of the Afghanistan war logs.


Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Edward Snowden Ghcq Glenn Greenwald Julian Assange Nsa Spying Surveillance The Intercept Wikileaks

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