Liberty: GCHQ spied on us and we’re taking legal action

Human rights group Liberty is taking legal action over suspicions it was targeted for surveillance.

The group believes its electronic communications and that of its staff may have been unlawfully accessed by intelligence agencies.

"Those demanding the snoopers' charter seem to have been indulging in out-of-control snooping even without it – exploiting legal loopholes and help from Uncle Sam," James Welch, legal director for Liberty, said.

Liberty will ask the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) whether intelligence agencies used the Prism surveillance systems to bypass legal safeguards against unwarranted eavesdropping.

The claim specifies that any such access would contravene Article Eight of the Human Rights Act – the right to privacy.

The move comes amid continued fury over US authorities' use of the Prism surveillance system to monitor online communication across the world.

Britain's GCHQ has often been given access to that system, but many privacy groups suspect the relationship goes much further than that.

Some believe GCHQ and the US National Security Agency (NSA) have been monitoring each others' citizens as a means of sidestepping domestic restrictions on their behaviour.

The legal action comes amid a frenzied media pursuit of Edward Snowden, the IT expert who broke the Prism story.

He was thought to be catching a plane from Hong Kong to Russia, before flying to Cuba or Ecuador to evade American authorities.

But the plane he was set to travel to Cuba in left without him, leading journalists and authorities to conclude he was still in Moscow.