Judge won’t toss lawsuit accusing NSA of spying on everyone in SLC during the 2002 Olympics

Posted at 4:53 PM, Jan 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-10 20:03:03-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit accusing the National Security Agency of spying on anyone and everyone in the Salt Lake City area during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

In a ruling handed down on Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby rejected arguments by the NSA that the allegations were unbelievable.

"The NSA submits Plaintiffs have not alleged facts plausibly showing they have suffered an injury redressable through the relief sought in this lawsuit. While not stated in so many words, the NSA’s central argument is that the Plaintiffs’ allegations are fanciful and not worthy of belief," Judge Shelby wrote.

The lawsuit was filed in 2015 against the NSA by former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, who is representing a coalition of people including Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, former Utah Democratic Party Vice-Chair Josie Valdez and former Salt Lake City Councilwoman Deeda Seed. They accuse the NSA of conducting wholesale surveillance of all text messages, emails and phone calls for everyone in the Salt Lake City area during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

The 2002 Winter Olympics took place under heavy security following the 9/11 terror attacks. The lawsuit accuses the NSA of acting under orders from then-President George W. Bush.

Judge Shelby said he would decide if the NSA's allegations were worthy of belief, deciding to allow the lawsuit go forward and the plaintiffs the ability to prove their claims.

"At this step, it is irrelevant whether the allegations strike the court as simply unbelievable or unlikely to be supported. Instead, the court must consider whether the allegations are bare assertions of the elements of a claim, or in this instance, a bare assertion of injury in fact," the judge wrote.

Read the judge's ruling here: