Another round of documents provided by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden show the NSA spied on Muslim-American citizens. (Via Getty Images)
According to a report by The Intercept, five American citizens who "led highly public, outwardly exemplary lives" were under email surveillance by the NSA and FBI.
These surveillance targets included a lawyer, professors, civil rights activists and even a political candidate. All of whom have denied any involvement in terrorism, espionage or the like.
The Intercept points out we have no way of knowing why these American citizens were under surveillance, because justifications are classified.
But Asim Ghafoor — one of the targets — said, "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."
But the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice have published a joint statement denying these accusations writing, "unlike some other nations, the United States does not monitor anyone’s communications in order to suppress criticism or to put people at a disadvantage based on their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation or religion."
The statement goes on to say only targets believed to be "an agent of a foreign power" are possible subjects of surveillance.
But, describing the report as "fairly explosive," a writer for Gigaom points out some cold, hard facts.
"The report suggested that 'many if not most' of the 7,485 people in the spreadsheet are of Muslim heritage, and cited training documentation that uses the racist term 'Mohammed Raghead' as a placeholder for the name of a theoretical target." (Via Gigaom)
The Intercept described this report as the finale, publishing it following a three-month investigation into the claims. The outlet says the Office of the Director of National Intelligence "urged against publication" of surveillance targets.