A new release of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks reveals that the NSA and the UK spy agency GCHQ targeted the non-terrorist website WikiLeaks and “the human network that supports WikiLeaks.”
That human network included millions of innocent people who read the WikiLeaks website.
According to The Intercept, "By exploiting its ability to tap into the fiber-optic cables that make up the backbone of the Internet, [GCHQ] confided to allies in 2012, it was able to collect the IP addresses of visitors in real time, as well as the search terms that visitors used to reach the site from search engines like Google."
Another classified NSA document (from August 2010) reportedly shows how the Obama administration pushed foreign countries to file criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing the Afghanistan war logs.
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Sweden did press charges and the UK tried to extradite Assange, who escaped by seeking asylum in the Ecuador embassy in London.
The Afghanistan war logs included the infamous killing of several Reuters reporters in Iraq by an US gunship in 2007 (video below).
As far back as 2008, the U.S. Army designated WikiLeaks as a "threat" and drew up plans to stop it, noted The New York Times.
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, "The US government is engaging in forum shopping, trying to get countries with less speech-protective laws to engage in prosecutions that would violate the Constitution if they were tried here. Publishing classified documents is not illegal in the United States, and the US has not charged WikiLeaks with any crime for publishing the Afghanistan war logs or any other classified documents."
This seems to be confirmed by a November 2013 report by The Washington Post which said the US could not prosecute Assange without going after all the media outlets that published WikiLeaks content.
The NSA documents also show that the spy agency considered spying on "Anonymous" affiliates and users of file-sharing site Pirate Bay, which has nothing to do with terrorism.
“This is a very troubling report,” said Jameel Jaffer, American Civil Liberties Union deputy legal director. “Publishers who disclose abuses of government power should not be subjected to invasive surveillance for having done so, and individuals should not be swept up into surveillance dragnets simply because they’ve visited websites that report on those abuses.”