Edward Snowden calls Canada police spying a ‘radical attack’ on journalists

Snowden called for the resignation of Montreal police chief after news broke that police spent five months tracking the phone of a prominent journalist. Edward Snowden is calling for the resignation of Montreal’s police chief, amid allegations that police forces in the Canadian province secretly monitored the phones of at least seven journalists.

Snowden spoke at Montreal’s McGill University, after news broke that police in the city had spent five months tracking the phone of a prominent journalist in order to identify his sources.

The scandal deepened on Wednesday after Québec provincial police admitted they had obtained warrants in 2013 to spy on another six journalists with the aim of ferreting out media leaks within the police force.

Speaking via video link to a packed auditorium, the NSA whistleblower described the police actions as a “radical attack on the operations of the free press” and wondered whether the law was beginning to fail in its role as a guarantor of rights.

Montreal police have defended their actions, claiming that it was an exceptional situation. The surveillance was part of an investigation into allegations that police officers in the drugs and street gangs unit had fabricated evidence. Five officers were arrested over the allegations this summer.

After police detected contact between one of the officers under investigation and La Presse journalist Patrick Lagacé, they obtained warrants to track Lagacé’s iPhone. Police actions were aimed at investigating police officers, not Lagacé, Montreal police chief Philippe Pichet said on Monday.