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A lawsuit challenging a law that lets the United States eavesdrop on overseas communications more widely and with less judicial oversight than in the past was reinstated Monday by a federal appeals court that said new rules regarding surveillance had put lawyers, journalists and human rights groups in a "lose-lose situation."

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it took no position on the merits of the lawsuit brought by those in jobs that require them to speak with people overseas, saying only that the plaintiffs had legal standing to bring it against the latest version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl in Manhattan had sided with the government in a 2009 ruling, saying the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue since none of them could show they were subject to the surveillance. He said Americans' fears that their conversations would be monitored and their rights violated were "purely subjective."

Attorneys, journalists and human rights groups whose work might require speaking to possible surveillance targets had brought the lawsuit on constitutional grounds, saying new government procedures for eavesdropping on international communications forced them to take costly and burdensome steps to protect the confidentiality of their overseas communications.

In a lengthy written ruling, the 2nd Circuit said the plaintiffs had standing to sue in part because they had established that they had a reasonable fear of injury from the surveillance and had incurred costs to avoid it.


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