Posts Tagged ‘Snowden’

“Law versus Power” – Book talk by Wolfgang Kaleck, ECCHR General Secretary

January 23, 2019

Wolfgang Kaleck, who was in 2007 the founder of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) is presenting his new book LAW VERSUS POWER – Our Global Fight for Human Rights.  [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/06/15/ecchr-launches-new-institute-for-legal-intervention/]

Kaleck’s work has taken him to Buenos Aires, to stand with the mothers of youngsters “disappeared” under the Argentinian military dictatorship; to exiled Syrian communities, where he assembled the case against torture mandated by those high up in the Assad government; to Central America, where he collaborated with those pursuing the Guatemalan military for its massacres of indigenous people; to New York, to partner with the Center for Constitutional Rights in taking action against Donald Rumsfeld for the “enhanced interrogation techniques” he greenlighted after 9/11; and to Moscow, where he represents the whistle-blower Edward Snowden, “a likeable man whose talents go far beyond his technical skills.” In recounting his involvement in such cases, Kaleck gives voice to those he is representing, emphasizing the courage and persistence they bring to the global search for justice.

The Berlin book launch will take place on 6 February 2019 in Berlin (19h00) at the Denkerei, ORANIENPLATZ 2, where Wolfgang Kaleck will discuss – with Nadja Vancauwenberghe, publisher and editor in chief of Exberliner – today’s challenges and opportunities in the struggle for human rights. Syrian musician Abdahllah Rahhal is an international artists whose work aims to highlight humanity in every moment of life.. The event will be held in English and can be followed via livestream.

https://www.ecchr.eu/en/event/law-versus-power-book-talk-by-wolfgang-kaleck-1/

 

Edward Snowden can still not collect his award(s)

September 29, 2016

The Norwegian branch of the PEN Club had hoped to honor whistleblower Edward Snowden in Oslo, but a Norwegian court has dismissed a bid for assurances he would not be extradited should he visit Norway to collect the Carl von Ossietzky award which was granted to him in 2014 [see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/edward-snowden-gets-another-human-rights-award-in-berlin/]. Read the rest of this entry »

Edward Snowden gets another human rights award in Berlin

December 15, 2014

Former NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden was given the Carl von Ossietzky Medal in Berlin on Sunday, a medal which honors those who exhibit extraordinary civic courage or commitment to the spread and defense of human rights. According to website of the International League for Human Rights in Berlin, which has awarded the prize since 1962, Snowden was chosen because of his “momentous decision of conscience … to put [his] personal freedom on the line” to expose the “abuse of power” exercised by the US and Germany.

Verleihung des Alternativen Nobelpreises an Edward Snowden

Snowden shares the medal with Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who broke his story, along with Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker who was in Berlin to accept it on the whole trio’s behalf [Snowden appeared on skype]. Several speeches were given, including one from former federal Interior Minister Gerhart Baum and human rights lawyer Wolfgang Kaleck, who represents Snowden. Baum spoke of how the Snowden had “opened our eyes to the largest intelligence surveillance scandal I know.” See more: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/snowden/

The von Ossietzky medal is named after the German Nobel Peace Prize winner who spoke out actively against the Nazi regime. Not to be confused with two other awards in the name of Ossietzky.

Edward Snowden gets human rights award in Berlin | News | DW.DE | 14.12.2014.

Amnesty’s Detekt: a new tool against government spying launched today

November 20, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 10.24.35

On 20 November 2014 Amnesty International launched a new tool that human rights defenders can use in their struggle against surveillance. It is calledDETEKT. As I have often expressed concern about digital security in this blog (see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/digital-security/\) here ARE major excerpts from the Questions and Answers that were provided in the press release:

What is Detekt and how does it work?

Detekt is a free tool that scans your computer for traces of known surveillance spyware used by governments to target and monitor human rights defenders and journalists around the world. By alerting them to the fact that they are being spied on, they will have the opportunity to take precautions.

It was developed by security researchers and has been used to assist in Citizen Lab’s investigations into government use of spyware against human rights defenders, journalists and activists as well as by security trainers to educate on the nature of targeted surveillance. Amnesty International is partnering with Privacy International, Digitale Gesellschaft and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Why are you launching Detekt now?

The latest technologies enable governments to track, monitor and spy on people’s activities like never before. Through the use of these technologies, governments can read private correspondence and even turn on the camera and microphone of a computer without its owner knowing it. Our ultimate aim is for human rights defenders, journalists and civil society groups to be able to carry out their legitimate work without fear of surveillance, harassment, intimidation, arrest or torture.

Has anyone used Detekt successfully to know if they were being spied on? 

Detekt was developed by researchers affiliated with the Citizen Lab, who used a preliminary version of the tool during the course of their investigations into the use of unlawful surveillance equipment against human rights defenders in various countries around the world.

For example, according to research carried out by Citizen Lab and information published by Wikileaks, FinSpy – a spyware developed by FinFisher, a German firm that used to be part of UK-based Gamma International– was used to spy on prominent human rights lawyers and activists in Bahrain.

How effective is this tool against technologies developed by powerful companies? 

Detekt is a very useful tool that can uncover the presence of some commonly used spyware on a computer, however it cannot detect all surveillance software. In addition, companies that develop the spyware will probably react fast to update their products to ensure they avoid detection. This is why we are encouraging security researchers in the open-source community to help the organizations behind this project to identify additional spyware or new versions to help Detekt keep up to date.

It is important to underline that if Detekt does not find trace of spyware on a computer, it does not necessarily mean that none is present. Rather than provide a conclusive guarantee to activists that their computer is infected, our hope is that Detekt will help raise awareness of the use of such spyware by governments and will make activists more vigilant to this threat.

In addition, by raising awareness with governments and the public, we will be increasing pressure for more stringent export controls to ensure that such spyware is not sold to governments who are known to use these technologies to commit human rights violations.

How widely do governments use surveillance technology?

Governments are increasingly using surveillance technology, and targeted surveillance in particular, to monitor the legitimate activities of human rights activists and journalists. Powerful software developed by companies allows governments and intelligence agencies to read personal emails, listen-in on Skype conversations or even remotely turn on a computers camera and microphone without its owner knowing about it. In many cases, the information they gather through those means is used to detain, imprison and even torture activists into confessing to crimes.

How big is the unregulated trade in surveillance equipment? What are the main companies and countries involved? 

The global surveillance industry is estimated to be worth approximately US$5 billion a year – with profits growing 20 per cent every year. European and American companies have been quietly selling surveillance equipment and software to countries across the world that persistently commit serious human rights violations. Industry self-regulation has failed, and government oversight has now become an urgent necessity.

Privacy International has extensively documented the development, sale and export of surveillance technologies by private companies to regimes around the world. Recipient countries include: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Morocco, South Africa, Syria and Turkmenistan.

Isn’t publicizing the existence of this tool giving governments a heads up about how they can avoid being caught (by adapting new equipment which avoids detection)?

The technologies that allow governments to efficiently and covertly monitor the digital communications of their citizens are continuously improving. This is happening across the world. The growing trend in indiscriminate mass surveillance on a global scale was laid bare by the Edward Snowden disclosures. In addition to mass surveillance technologies, many governments are using sophisticated tools to target specific human rights defenders and journalists who work to uncover abuses and injustice. The new spyware being developed and used is powerful and dangerous and putting many human rights activists and journalists at risk of abuse.

As surveillance technologies develop in sophistication, it is vital that civil society groups learn how to protect their digital communications. No one tool or intervention will be enough to do this. We hope Detekt will become a new approach for investigating surveillance while sensitizing people to the threats.

However, long term we must also demand that governments live up to their existing commitments to human rights and that they and companies put in place stronger protections to ensure that new technologies are not used to violate human rights.

Surveillance is also used to carry out legitimate criminal investigations, why are you against it? 

Targeted surveillance is only justifiable when it occurs based on reasonable suspicion, in accordance with the law, is strictly necessary to meet a legitimate aim (such as protecting national security or combatting serious crime and is conducted in a manner that is proportionate to that aim and non-discriminatory.

Indiscriminate mass surveillance – the widespread and bulk interception of communication data that is not targeted or based on reasonable suspicion – is never justifiable. It interferes with a range of human rights, particularly the rights to privacy and freedom of expression.

The Detekt tool can be downloaded from: Github page.

http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/detekt-new-tool-against-government-surveillance-questions-and-answers-2014-11-20

 http://gadgets.ndtv.com/internet/news/human-rights-group-amnesty-international-releases-anti-surveillance-tool-623484

Amnestys Detekt tool wants to help you thwart government spying | ZDNet.

Espionage on Human Rights Defenders reaches further than Governments

April 13, 2014

In a very interesting post in Dissident Voice of 12 April, Binoy Kampmark picks up on the item I referred to on 9 April (https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/snowden-alleges-spy-agencies-have-targeted-human-rights-defenders/) about Snowden’s allegation that human rights defenders were also the subject of surveillance. He not only shows the discrepancy between the (rather positive) Guidelines on HRDs by the State Department and what NSA is actually doing, but also provides a link to a November 2013 report by Centre for Corporate Policy, a Washington, D.C. thinktank, titled “Spooky Business: Corporate Espionage Against Nonprofit Organizations,” which shows that aversion to dissent is endemic, and attracts birds of a feather in both government and corporate circles. According to the report, the precondition for such espionage is that the non-profit organisation in question “impairs or at least threatens a company’s assets or image sufficiently.” The targets are varied, including “environmental, antiwar, public interest, consumer, food safety, pesticide reform, nursing home reform, gun control, social justice, animal rights and arms control groups.

Irresistible: Espionage, Dissent, and NGOs | Dissident Voice.

Snowden alleges spy agencies have targeted human rights defenders

April 9, 2014

Edward Snowden, a former US intelligence contractor and whistleblower, made the allegations in a videoconference to PACE today.

Edward Snowden made the allegations in a videoconference to PACE today.© FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images

Former US intelligence contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden’s latest allegations point to a very real risk that human rights defenders have been the targets of mass surveillance by the US and British spy agencies. Snowden, who is living in exile in Moscow, made the remarks this afternoon, 8 April 2014, via a videoconference link to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg, France. When asked if the US National Security Agency (NSA) or its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) were actively spying on human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others, he said: “Without question, yes, absolutely …The NSA has in fact specifically targeted the communications of either leaders or staff members in a number of purely civil or human rights organizations of the kind described”.

Read the rest of this entry »

American Civil Liberties Union sees Snowden as a Human Rights Defender!

December 20, 2013

Whether Edward Snowden is a human rights defender or a criminal has been much debated and was also reported on in this blog. He was nominated for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize and received the Netizen’s award from the NGO Reporters without Borders. Now the highly respected American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), through its Executive Director Anthony Romero, has taken a clear stand and his article of 17 December 2013 is provided here in full:Snowden photo

Edward Snowden is a Patriot

Read the rest of this entry »

Snowden gets one year asylum – Kenneth Ross makes good suggestion

August 2, 2013

HRW_logo

In the ongoing saga concerning the asylum request by Snowden, Kenneth Ross, the director of Human Rights Watch, makes on 2 August an interesting and courageous comment on Twitter: “Instead of trying to extradite Snowden, Congress should ask him to testify by video as spur to end mass NSA snooping.

Defiant Russia Grants Snowden Year’s Asylum – NYTimes.com.

Edward Snowden portrayed as a Human Rights Defender by US groups

June 28, 2013

In a post on 4 June under the title “Bradley Manning not a Prisoner of Conscience for Amnesty International ?” I related the controversy surrounding the status of human rights defender for Breadly Manning. On 13 June, under title “Snowden a human rights defender?  – Russia seems to think so” I referred to a similar issue with regard Read the rest of this entry »

Snowden a human rights defender? – Russia seems to think so

June 13, 2013

Human Rights activist, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is a national her, anti-fascism New Yorkers said at a rally on June 10
(Getty Images)

Yesterday I referred to the difficulty of defining human rights defenders in relation to a Nigerian politician, and here comes another, maybe more difficult one:

As the United States Justice Department prepare charges against  Edward Snowden, former federal government contractor who revealed the NSA’s secret surveillance program rights violation, as ABC News reportedRussia said Tuesday 11 June that it would consider a request from him for safe haven and The Guardian reported tuesday that Vladimir Putin’s spokesman says any appeal from whistleblower Edward Snowden for asylum will be looked at ‘according to facts,’

Aleksey Pushkov, chair of the State Duma’s International Affairs Committee, said Snowden is a “human rights activist.” Referring to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Pushkov said, “In this sense, Snowden — like Assange — is a human-rights activist.”

I’m willing to sacrifice all that because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people all around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building,” Snowden himself told The Guardian.

Russia might aid Snowden human rights activist – National Human Rights | Examiner.com.