Edward Snowden issued a statement late Monday regarding the ruling by federal district judge, Richard J. Leon, who earlier on Monday stated in his ruling against the NSA that the National Security Agency program is systematically keeping records of all Americans’ phone calls is ‘almost Orwellian,’ reports the N.Y. Times today.
In a statement distributed by journalist Glenn Greenwald and published in the New York Times, Snowden predicted Leon's ruling would be ‘the first of many’ against the controversial surveillance practices.
‘I acted on my belief that the N.S.A.'s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts,’ Snowden said. ‘Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many.’
Judge Leon’s ruling on Monday was based upon the fourth amendment to protect individuals against ‘unreasonable search and seizure.’
This is the first time a case has been heard by a judge not on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has examined bulk data on behalf of someone who is not a criminal defendant. Previously the Justice Department has said 15 different judges have held 35 times that the data program is legal.
The judge stayed the decision immediately after posting the 68 page ruling, so the government has time to review and appeal.
Andrew Ames, a Justice Department spokesman, said government lawyers were studying the decision, but he added: ‘We believe the program is constitutional as previous judges have found.’
The case was brought by several plaintiffs led by Larry Klayman, a conservative legal activist. Mr. Klayman, who represented himself and the other plaintiffs, said in an interview on Monday that he was seeking to turn the case into a class action on behalf of all Americans. ‘I’m extremely gratified that Judge Leon had the courage to make this ruling,” he said. ‘He is an American hero.’
Congress has several government panels reviewing whether to continue, scrap or change the bulk data collection program.
Congress will debate on how to proceed with bills regarding the funding and review of such programs and history will determine how Edward J. Snowden is judged.