UK spy agency fears legal ramifications if snoop-op details go public

The classified documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have revealed that the UK`s spy agency GCHQ is concerned about the public disclosure of its surveillance methods could bring in legal challenges under the Human Rights Act.

ANI| Updated: Oct 26, 2013, 16:19 PM IST

London: The classified documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have revealed that the UK`s spy agency GCHQ is concerned about the public disclosure of its surveillance methods could bring in legal challenges under the Human Rights Act.

The GCHQ fears that it could be challenged legally if evidence of its surveillance methods becomes admissible in court.

According to the Guardian, the intelligence agency has repeatedly warned it fears of a `damaging public debate` on the scale of its activities, and the leaked documents reveal the agency`s long battle in keeping the alleged snoop-ops a secret.

The agency has long battled to keep the intercept evidence a secret, more to minimize the potential for challenges against its programmes, than any intrinsic threat to national security.

The documents reveal that the GCHQ lobbied furiously to keep secret the fact that telecoms firms had gone `well beyond` what they were legally required to do to aid the agency in its alleged programmes.

The report further indicates that the most recent attempt to make intelligence gathered from intercepts admissible in court, proposed by the last Labour government, was finally stymied by GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 in 2009.

The GCHQ is known to have expressed the fear of damage to partner relationships if sensitive information were accidentally released in open court and the agency had also noted that the `scale of interception and retention required would be fairly likely to be challenged on Article 8 (Right to Privacy) grounds`.

The revelations made by Snowden have stirred controversies around the globe, soiled US` ties with its allies, not just about the alleged surveillance of citizens across continents by the spy agencies but the recent claims also indicate that as many as 35 global leaders have been possibly snooped on.