France to sue NSA? Rights groups urge court to open lawsuit over US spying

France to sue NSA? Rights groups urge court to open lawsuit over US spying
French rights groups have banded together to lodge a complaint in court over the NSA’s mass surveillance program. Activists blasted the US spying as “uncontrolled intrusion into people's lives” disguised as the ‘War on Terror’.

The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and the French League of Human Rights (LDH) rounded on the US National Security Agency (NSA) on Thursday, lodging a complaint in court. They have called on the court to open a lawsuit against the American government body and nine US firms.

"This is a significant threat to individual liberties and must be curbed at the risk of seeing the rule of law disappear. So the FIDH and LDH have asked a French court to open a lawsuit into these matters," the groups said in a statement.

Among the firms are Facebook, Skype, Microsoft and Google, which have all been accused of handing over private information to the NSA through the PRISM internet surveillance system. The companies have denied any collaboration with the NSA and claim the government organization extracted the data without their knowledge.

“We have never seen such an infringement on individual freedoms, to such a large scale, from a foreign nation and it potentially affects all French citizens and all French internet users when they use Google, Microsoft, Apple, Skype and other companies,” Emmanuel Daoud, the lawyer for the two rights organizations told France Info radio.

He went on to accuse the companies of concealing the truth, alleging that they were aware of PRISM all along. Daoud believes that the companies purposely allowed PRISM access to their servers, enabling them to retrieve any data they wanted.

Former CIA employee Edward Snowden caused an international scandal when he released documents with evidence the US spied on European countries. The leak caused an international row, with EU leaders accusing Washington of violating their sovereignty and spying on their allies. In response the White House has defended its activities, maintaining such practices are widespread and necessary for the protection of its citizens.

Snowden, who is currently holed up in a Moscow airport awaiting confirmation of his requests for political asylum, has accused EU countries of collaborating with the NSA. In an interview with German publication Der Spiegel before he went public with the leaks, he said NSA spies are “in bed together with the Germans and most other Western states.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to meet with President Barack Obama for a “high-level” meeting to discuss US espionage practice in the coming days.