NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has praised a federal appeals court's ruling that the agency's surveillance program is illegal, saying the decision was "extraordinarily encouraging."
As we reported on Thursday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 2nd District in New York issued a ruling Thursday that the bulk collection of metadata that Snowden's leaks revealed was not authorized under federal law, including the USA Patriot Act.
In an interview on livestream published by Forbes, Snowden, speaking from exile in Russia, called the ruling "significant."
"The importance of it in the U.S. legal community — the policy community — can't be overstated," Snowden said. "This decision will not affect only the phone metadata program. It will affect every other mass surveillance program in the U.S. going forward."
"What's extraordinary about this is the fact that in 2013 before the leaks, the same issues had been tried to be reviewed by the courts," Snowden told livestream. "Another NGO called Amnesty International brought the same challenge against the same individual. They threw it out of court because Amnesty could not prove it had been spied upon."
"It is extraordinarily encouraging to see the courts are beginning to change their thinking to say 'if Congress will not pass reasonable laws, if the executive will not act as a responsible steward of liberty and rights in how they execute the laws, it falls to the courts to say this has gone too far,' " Snowden said.
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