UK intelligence agencies on trial: Tribunal to hear mass surveillance case brought by Amnesty International and others

Jonathon McIntosh

Amnesty International  

Diary Note


From Monday 14 to Friday 18 July, the British intelligence agencies and the Ministers responsible for them will be under the spotlight in a historic case to determine whether mass communications surveillance is lawful.

Amnesty International along with Privacy International, Liberty, the American Civil Liberties Union, Pakistani organisation Bytes for All and others, have brought the case before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) to challenge the UK government’s insistence that alleged operations involving bulk interception, collection, analysis and use of people’s communications and related sharing arrangements with the US are lawful.  

Despite widely known revelations from Edward Snowden including about UK surveillance practices, the UK government persists in refusing to either ‘confirm or deny’ the existence of a programme at the heart of these claims –  Tempora.

At the hearing the Tribunal will seek to determine, in light of UK's Human Rights Act:

  • • If the ‘Tempora’ mass communications surveillance programme exists, whether it operates within the law;
  • • If the US PRISM and UPSTREAM programmes exist and the US shares collected information with the UK, whether that is lawful.

The case is also about the oversight regime for the British intelligence agencies, including the IPT itself.

It is the first time that these UK government agencies, including the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), have appeared in a public hearing to answer direct allegations and state their position on the mass surveillance operations as a whole, since the Snowden revelations.

The IPT was established 14 years ago to hear allegations that the UK intelligence agencies have breached legal rights. Almost all its hearings are held in secret. This hearing will be public.

WHAT:  Historic case to determine whether mass data surveillance operations by the UK are lawful.

WHEN:  Monday to Friday 14- 18 July 2014

WHERE:  The Investigatory Powers Tribunal
Rolls Building
Fetter Lane,

WHO:        Liberty, Privacy International, Amnesty International and 7 others v UK Security Service, Secret Intelligence Services, Government Communications Headquarters and Others

To arrange an interview and for further information please contact:
Lydia Aroyo, Press Officer, Amnesty International, International Secretariat at [email protected]; 07771 796 350; Out of hours: 07778472126,

Amnesty International UK media information:
Harriet Garland 020 7033 1549,
Out of hours: 07721 398984,