[IRPCoalition] A message from R2K to Britain's spies at GCHQ

Anriette Esterhuysen anriette at apc.org
Tue Jun 23 12:02:34 EEST 2015

Dear all

I am sure many of you saw the news yesterday about GCHQ spying on South
African and Egyptian human rights organisations.

Here is our response (our being South African activists).


*A message from R2K to Britain's spies at GCHQ*

Online: http://www.r2k.org.za/?p=5076

We are outraged to learn that the UK’s Gov­ern­ment Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
Head­quar­ters (GCHQ), the British spy agency, has spied on email
communications of the Legal Resources Centre
This emerged on Monday in a ruling by the UK’s secretive Investigative
Powers Tribunal. The ruling confirmed that another human rights
organisation, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), was
also spied on in breach of GCHQ’s internal policies.

It seems there are no limits to what GCHQ and its allies are willing to
do. The ruling found that this surveillance was illegal, even by GCHQ's
own very lax standards, although this was described as a "technical" breach.

This is further evidence of the extent to which governments across the
world seem willing to use surveillance policies to invade the privacy of
human rights defenders and ordinary citizens alike.

The LRC provides pro bono legal support to many civil society groups and
communities across South Africa, including the Right2Know Campaign. This
surveillance has potentially also violated the rights of the LRC’s
clients to attorney-client confidentiality, although no information has
been provided in the ruling about precisely what communications were
intercepted. We applaud the LRC for its continued efforts to protect the
rights of its clients.

We call on the British Embassy in Pretoria to explain how its government
came to spy on South African human rights lawyers!

And we send a message to the GCHQ, which they can plug into Google
Translate in their own time:

*Sidikiwe! Voetsek!
For more information see the LRC's press release
and Privacy International's briefing

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