Amnesty International demands to know why it was spied on by UK government

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Human rights charity Amnesty International has demanded to know why it was targeted for government surveillance by GCHQ.

The charity, which was founded on 1961, fights to uphold human rights around the world – and in recent years has also become a strong voice in favour of LGBT equality.

It emerged this week that the group had been spied on by surveillance agency GCHQ, when the Investigatory Powers Tribunal informed them that intercepted data had been stored unlawfully.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said: “After 18 months of litigation and all the denials and subterfuge that entailed, we now have confirmation that we were in fact subjected to UK government mass surveillance.

“It’s outrageous that what has been often presented as being the domain of despotic rulers has been occurring on British soil, by the British government.

“How can we be expected to carry out our crucial work around the world if human rights defenders and victims of abuses can now credibly believe their confidential correspondence with us is likely to end up in the hands of governments?”

Shetty added: “The revelation that the UK government has been spying on Amnesty International highlights the gross inadequacies in the UK’s surveillance legislation.

If they hadn’t stored our communications for longer than they were allowed to by internal guidelines, we would never even have known. What’s worse, this would have been considered perfectly lawful.”

Amnesty recently called on Northern Ireland to ‘catch up’ with the rest of the UK on same-sex marriage, and also played a key role in the ‘Yes’ campaign in the Republic of Ireland earlier this year.

It has also called for EU member states to take a stronger stance on hate crime, and spoken out about human rights