Also revealed in leaks by NSA Contractor Edward Snowden last year, pervasive surveillance in the United Kingdom has received less scrutiny than its American counterpart.  English PEN is leading the charge for privacy and free speech with a legal challenge moving quickly through the European Court of Human Rights, evidenced today by a rare priority designation from the court.  English PEN reports.

European Court of Human Rights to move quickly in determining whether UK intelligence services in breach of the law.

Last September, English PEN challenged the UK’s internet surveillance activities before the European Court of Human Rights with Big Brother Watch, Open Rights Group, and German internet campaigner Constanze Kurz. The action followed the Guardian’s revelations last summer about GCHQ’s data-trawling programme, outlined in whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaks.

The European Court has completed its preliminary examination of the case and has communicated it to the British government, asking it to justify how GCHQ’s practices and the current system of oversight comply with the right to privacy. The court has also awarded the case a rare priority designation. The government now has until 2 May to respond, after which the case will move into the final stages before judgment.

English PEN and its partners are arguing that unchecked surveillance is a breach of the right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Any interference with that right must be proportionate and in accordance with adequate and published legal standards.

For further information and to support the case please visit the campaign website: