Group accuses US of massive, illegal eavesdropping

A non-profit internet rights group filed a lawsuit against US President George W. Bush and others in his administration for the 'massively illegal' surveillance of emails and telephone calls without court warrants, an AFP report said.

The suit was filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which took the administration to task for what it argued is 'illegal surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans,' the AFP report said.

EFF lawyers filed a suit against AT&T in 2006 charging the US telecoms giant had opened up its network to National Security Agency (NSA) agents without proper court-approved warrants.

This year Congress passed legislation granting US telecommunications firms immunity from domestic spying lawsuits.

Wrangling about the constitutionality of that act has stalled the AT&T lawsuit as well as a slew of similar litigation aimed at other telecommunications firms.

The AFP report further quoted EFF lawyers saying the new lawsuit is aimed squarely at government officials, thereby sidestepping the immunity act.

'Our goal in this new case against the government, as in our case against AT&T, is to dismantle this dragnet surveillance program as soon as possible,' said EFF senior staff attorney Kevin Bankston.

The suit names Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, as well as attorneys general, the NSA director and 100 'john does' yet to be identified, the report further said.