Utah Residents Sue FBI and NSA for Spying During Winter Olympics

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(Newswire.net — August 26, 2015) — Salt Lake City, Utah – Under request of FBI and NSA, the Qwest Communications International Inc. set telecommunications intercept equipment in the Salt Lake City area during the Olympic Games, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2013. In 2015, a group of Utah residents teamed up in a joint lawsuit against the federal agencies for eavesdropping without a probable cause, Utah’s Deseret News reported.

Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, now a private practice attorney, filed a complaint on behalf of the plaintiffs, which are state Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, former Salt Lake City Councilwoman Deeda Seed, former Utah Democratic Party official Josie Valdez, historian Will Bagley, University of Utah professor Tom Huckin and attorney Daniel Darger.

“Not to stand up to the government when it’s acting with such gross criminality, and with such disregard of our fundamental freedoms, is a betrayal of our Constitution and our very system of government,” said Anderson.

Defendants include former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and former NSA Director Michael Hayden. According to Anderson, the defendants had no legal rights to authorize the surveillance.

Sen. Stephenson, otherwise conservative and Bush supporter, said he was eager to join the plaintiff after he heard Anderson compiled a lawsuit against a government that needed to be challenged in court.

“Orwell’s ‘1984’ is alive and well in Utah, at least during the Olympics, and that cannot be allowed to stand,” he said, arguing that it is not a partisan issue.

“This issue is not Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal. This issue is recognition that government should not be able to violate the rule of law, especially when it comes to ignoring the constitutional protections that were put in by the founders,” Stephenson said.

Counting government’s violation of Fourth Amendment rights, Stephenson stressed that spying without probably cause is just as serious as threats from terrorists.

Reportedly, Anderson also filed 192 claims with FBI, NSA, the Justice Department and the Executive Office of the President for people who contend their rights were violated, seeking at least $10,000 in damages for every person who was under allegedly illegal surveillance during Winter Olympic.

With today’s advanced surveillance technology, the lawsuit could name every Salt Lake citizen as a victim of federal surveillance law violations.