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(New York, April 8, 2014) – The former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden has told the Council of Europe that the NSA spied on human rights organizations, but did not identify which groups. If Snowden’s assertion is accurate, it is an example of behavior the US government condemns around the world.

“If it’s true that the NSA spied on groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, it’s outrageous, and indicative of the overreach that US law allows to security agencies,” said Dinah PoKempner, general counsel at Human Rights Watch. “Such actions would again show why the US needs to overhaul its system of indiscriminate surveillance.”

Protection of human rights defenders has been a priority for the US State Department and such actions would fly in the face of closely held values of freedom of association and expression, Human Rights Watch said.

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