Rights activists, church leaders and drug and gun rights advocates found common ground and filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the federal government to halt a vast National Security Agency electronic surveillance program.
The lawsuit was filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represents the unusually broad coalition of plaintiffs, and seeks an injunction against the NSA, Justice Department, FBI and directors of the agencies.
Filed in federal court in San Francisco, it challenges what the plaintiffs describe as an "illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet electronic surveillance."
The suit came after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details about NSA surveillance programs earlier this year.
NSA public affairs deferred comment on the lawsuit to the Justice Department. A Justice Department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the lawsuit, the coalition demands that the federal government return and destroy any telephone communications information in its possession. It also wants a jury trial on the allegations contained in the suit.
The plaintiffs include the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, the Council on American Islamic Relations Foundation, Greenpeace, Human Rights Watch, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and others.
The federal government has "indiscriminately obtained, and stored the telephone communications information of millions of ordinary Americans as part of the Associational Tracking Program," the lawsuit states.
Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a similar lawsuit in federal court in New York asking the government to stop the phone tracking program.
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