NSA Spied On Five Politically Active American Citizens, The Intercept Reports

Glenn Greenwald Names Names

WASHINGTON -- Glenn Greenwald is naming names.

The National Security Agency spied on five American citizens despite a lack of any finding that they posed a threat to national security, The Intercept, an investigative outlet co-founded by Greenwald, is reporting Wednesday.

All five are moderate American citizens who appear to have been targeted for surveillance between 2002 and 2008 because of their political activity. The NSA told The Intercept that the surveillance was not "based solely" on speech.

"No U.S. person can be the subject of FISA surveillance based solely on First Amendment activities, such as staging public rallies, organizing campaigns, writing critical essays, or expressing personal beliefs," the statement read.

The revelation of the names of those spied on has been hotly anticipated since Greenwald teased it in May. The names were included in documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Greenwald obtained the consent of all five before publishing their names, he told HuffPost. Among those is Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. CAIR, the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country, is widely regarded as moderate.

"I have long viewed this as one of the most important stories in the Snowden archive because it puts a face on the NSA's surveillance overreach and illustrates, yet again - that domestic spying abuses usually target minorities, marginalized groups, and dissidents," Greenwald told HuffPost.

Another of the Americans targeted for surveillance was Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates. He previously held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush. He was targeted in the mid-2000s by conservatives who accused him of falsifying records to obtain his security clearance. He was cleared by the Department of Homeland Security.

Watch an interview with Gill above.

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This story has been updated to include the dates the NSA surveillance occurred.

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