THE HAGUE – A group of lawyers, journalists and privacy advocates in the Netherlands is taking the government to court to prevent Dutch intelligence using phone data illegally acquired by the US National Security Agency.
Five individuals, among them a prominent investigative journalist and a well-known hacker, and four organisations filed the case before The Hague district court on Wednesday, according to their lawyer Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm.
The case comes after recent revelations that the NSA monitored 1.8 million phonecalls in a month in the Netherlands and then passed some of the data to Dutch intelligence services.
The NSA has been at the centre of a global furore set off by a series of bombshell leaks from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who lifted the lid on the US government’s far-reaching digital dragnet.
Dutch Home Affairs Minister Ronald Plasterk, whose ministry is the defendant in the case, last week confirmed the NSA’s phone intercepts, telling national television that “whether it’s about politicians or ordinary citizens it’s not acceptable”.
He said the Dutch secret service (AIVD) did exchange information with the NSA but was not necessarily aware where the information came from.
Those bringing the lawsuit include investigative journalist Brenno de Winter and hacker Rop Gonggrijp — who is under investigation by US authorities for his involvement with Wikileaks — and they say they want the NSA to stop eavesdropping and handing over information to Dutch intelligence.
The plaintiffs want judges to “declare that the Dutch state was acting illegally by receiving information from foreign intelligence services, which had been collected through spy programs like (the NSA’s) PRISM, contrary to Dutch law.”
The Dutch government should tell the plaintiffs “in writing” within three months what type of information was gathered about them and what the information was used for.
The document asked for the case to be heard on November 27.
Last week Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported that British and Dutch intelligence services closely cooperated in exchanging intelligence including providing legal advice on “Dutch legislative issues.”