Expressing concern over reports that the NSA and FBI monitored emails of prominent Muslim- Americans, including an Indian-origin attorney, a coalition of South Asian groups has appealed to the US to end surveillance on “innocent” community members.
The National Coalition of South Asian Organisations (NCSO), in a statement, said that it was deeply troubled by the reports that the US security agencies have engaged in surveillance of Muslim-American civic and civil rights leaders, including Indian and Pakistani Americans, under procedures intended to targed terrorists and spies.
“As organisations that work directly with South Asian community members, we know all too well that in the post 9/11 environment, the targeting of Muslim-Americans has unfortunately become a commonplace occurrence,” NCSO said.
It said that reports of surveillance at mosques and student associations, infiltration of informants, and profiling through the use of watchlists continue to occur, and have a negative impact on their communities.
“We call upon the President and Congress to end government activities that lead to the surveillance and profiling of innocent community members and to hold public hearings on the extent of these practices,” NCSO said.
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Based on the documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, online news site The Intercept on Wednesday said the NSA and FBI have covertly monitored emails of prominent Muslim-Americans under secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies.
The report said the surveillance was authorised by a secret intelligence court under procedures intended to locate spies and terrorist suspects.
The Intercept said it identified at least five persons, all American citizens, based on their email addresses.
These include Indian-origin attorney Asim Ghafoor, who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases.
“I believe that they tapped me because my name is Asim Abdur Rahman Ghafoor, my parents are from India, I travelled to Saudi Arabia as a young man, and I do the pilgrimage,” The Intercept quoted Ghafoor as saying.