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U.N. steps into Snowden fray

July 15, 2013 at 10:40 AM

GENEVA, Switzerland, July 15 (UPI) -- Surveillance without adequate safeguards for personal privacy is unacceptable, the top human rights chief for the United Nations said from Geneva.

The European Parliament expressed concern about cyberespionage following allegations a U.S. surveillance system targeted computer networks used officially by the European Union. The program was part of program dubbed Prism, information about which was revealed by former U.S. security contractor Edward Snowden.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said she was concerned about the expanded use of cyberespionage.

"While concerns about national security and criminal activity may justify the exceptional and narrowly tailored use of surveillance programs, surveillance without adequate safeguards to protect the right to privacy actually risk impacting negatively on the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms," she said in a statement Friday.

The White House said it wants Snowden to face felony charges in the U.S. justice system. He's in Moscow trying to negotiate political asylum.

Pillay said there are international laws on the books against "arbitrary interference" of a person's privacy online.

"Without prejudging the validity of any asylum claim by Snowden, I appeal to all states to respect the internationally guaranteed right to seek asylum," she added.

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