United Nations to Probe U.K. and U.S. Spy Agencies Over Snowden Leaks

Senior counterterrorism official also criticizes attacks on journalism

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Eric Thayer / Reuters

A United Nations flag is seen in a boardroom in the Secretariat building during the U.N. General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York September 25, 2013.

The senior counterterrorism official at the United Nations, Ben Emmerson, is launching a probe into the surveillance activities of the intelligence agencies of the United States and the United Kingdom.

The investigation, announced by Emmerson in a Guardian piece on Monday, will lead to a host of recommendations, to be presented before the UN general assembly next fall. Those recommendations will concern topics such as whether Edward Snowden should be given the legal protection of a whistleblower or whether his leaks have damaged national security in any of the two countries.

The main focus of Emmerson’s article, however, was a critique of the attacks made on the Guardian by governments and the intelligence community after it published leaked documents.

“The astonishing suggestion that this sort of journalism can be equated with aiding and abetting terrorism needs to be scotched decisively,” he wrote.