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, revealing a broad U.S. intelligence program to monitor Internet and telephone activity to ferret out terror plots.
Snowden, who has been charged with spying and theft of government property, has spent the past three weeks in the Moscow airport transit zone.
On Tuesday, he submitted a request for temporary asylum in Russia, his lawyer said, claiming he faces persecution from the U.S. government and could face torture or death.
NSA public affairs deferred comment on the Electronic Frontier Foundation lawsuit to the Justice Department. A Justice Department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.