Leon said the appeal process would take at least six months and delayed his order “in light of the significant national security interests at stake ... and the novelty of the constitutional issues.”
Snowden, who worked as a contractor for the NSA, expressed satisfaction in a statement passed to the New York Times by journalist Glenn Greenwald.
“I acted on my belief that the NSA’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts,” Snowden said. “Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which campaigns for Internet freedoms, welcomed the ruling.
“It shows that the judiciary is looking at this program and does not agree that it is legal,” foundation attorney Kurt Opsahl said.