British Intelligence caught spying on South Africa’s leftie lawyers

22 June 2015 - 17:05 By RDM News Wire

The Legal Resources Centre’s email correspondence has been unlawfully intercepted by British Intelligence. This is a ruling handed down today by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) in the United Kingdom. According to the ruling‚ the actions of the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) are a breach of the LRC’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.Janet Love‚ National Director of the Legal Resources Centre‚ said in a statement: “The Legal Resources Centre is deeply concerned to learn that communications of our organisation have been subject to unlawful interception by GCHQ. As a public interest law firm‚ our communications are self-evidently confidential‚ and we consider this to be a serious breach of the rights of our organisation and the individuals concerned.”Although the Tribunal’s ruling stated that no use was made of the intercepted material and that the LRC‚ “has not suffered material detriment‚ damage or prejudice”‚ the LRC said the mere fact that communications were unlawfully intercepted is of serious concern. “In view of the veil of secrecy under which the intelligence services operate‚ we are left in the dark as to which communications were intercepted‚ the extent that this occurred‚ on whose authority this was permitted‚ and the reasons for this having being done.”Love added: “We can no longer accept the conduct of the intelligence services acting under such a pernicious veil of secrecy‚ and we will be taking immediate action to try to establish more information”.“We urge the South African and British governments to cooperate with us in this regard. We are particularly grateful for Liberty’s efforts in spearheading this litigation and making it possible for this information to be brought to light.”Liberty is a UK-based organisation that has been responsible for spear­heading the litigation before the Tribunal‚ assisted by Privacy International‚ Amnesty International and a number of other national human rights organisations from around the world.The British intelligence agency was also found to have acted unlawfully in the way that it handled intercepted private communications of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. No explanation is given as to why these two human rights groups were the targets of GCHQ’s attentions‚ Liberty said in a statement. “Both groups play an important role in holding their respective governments to account – a dangerous job‚ which in some cases runs the risk of reprisals from the State.”.James Welch‚ legal director for Liberty‚ added: “Last year it was revealed that GCHQ were eavesdropping on sacrosanct lawyer-client conversations. Now we learn they’ve been spying on human rights groups. What kind of signal are British authorities sending to despotic regimes and those who risk their lives to challenge them all over the world?”- A co-founder of the Legal Resources Centre‚ advocate Felicia Kentridge‚ died on 7 June 2015‚ in London. She helped establish the LRC in 1979 with fellow advocates‚ the late Arthur Chaskalson‚ who became Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court‚ and Geoff Budlender‚ to challenge apartheid-era human rights abuses.-RDM News Wire

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