20/03/2012 17:35 GMT | Updated 20/03/2012 17:36 GMT

NYPD Should Be Investigated For Spying On Muslims, Rights Group Urge

A leading human rights organisation has called for the US attorney general to investigate claims that New York Police are spying on Muslim communities.

In a letter to America's attorney general Eric Holder, Human Rights Watch said New York's police should be investigated over their "alleged religion-based discrimination."

Andrea Prasow, senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch claimed the police had "engaged in a pattern of surveillance of mosques and Muslim student groups" despite there being no suspicion of criminal activity.

“Since New York’s mayor and the state attorney general won’t act, the Justice Department needs to step in and properly investigate these allegations of discrimination,” Prasow said.

The New York-based organisation point to several reports from the Associated Press which detail "the NYPD’s surveillance and intelligence-gathering efforts in Muslim communities from 2006-2008 that were carried out solely on their religious or ethnic profile and not on suspicion of criminal activity."

In the letter Alison Parker, Director of the US Program at Human Rights Watch says "the surveillance and intelligence-gathering by the NYPD have violated the rights of American citizens and residents."

"We urge you to conduct an investigation into these allegations immediately, and to make the findings public," she adds.