By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia couple has joined the first class-action lawsuit against the Obama administration over the National Security Agency’s collection of millions of customer phone records from Verizon.
The plaintiffs are calling the domestic spy operation a breach of privacy.
Filed in federal court in Washington, DC on Sunday, the lawsuit names a host of heavy hitters including President Obama, the NSA, and the Department of Justice.
“It’s a violation of our privacy rights, our freedom of association, our due process rights,” says attorney Larry Klayman, founder of Freedom Watch.
Klayman originally filed the lawsuit last week as the sole plaintiff. On Sunday, Charles and Mary Anne Strange — a Philadelphia couple whose son Michael, a US Navy Seal, was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2011 (see related story) — joined the suit as a class action.
“Somebody has to be held accountable for my son’s death. Thirty brave Americans, the biggest loss in the Afghan war. And that’s when I started asking questions, that’s when my phone got tapped,” Strange said.
Strange claims he heard tapping noises while on the phone and he says he started getting odd texts shortly after his son’s death.
“I called Verizon, ‘I have a text 001 and 002’ and I called them up and I said ‘who’s this?’ and they said it’s somebody listening in from the United States, and someone from Afghanistan,” Strange explained.
The plaintiffs say they have been highly critical of the current administration and are likely targets.
“They feel that they have a duty here,” Klayman tells KYW Newsradio. “And it’s very likely that their telephone calls, because they have been critical, are being monitored as well.”
Klayman says the lawsuit potentially seeks billions in compensatory and punitive damages, as well as an order stopping the government surveillance.
A spokesman for Verizon says “the case is without merit.”
There was no immediate comment from the Department of Justice.