Seven years after the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program  was exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, the operation has been deemed unlawful by a federal court.

The ruling came down Wednesday from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which said that the program – which collected mass amounts of phone calls in the U.S. without warrants – violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and, potentially, the U.S. Constitution.

“I never imagined that I would live to see our courts condemn the NSA’s activities as unlawful and in the same ruling credit me for exposing them,” Snowden said about the ruling in a tweet. "And yet that day has arrived."

The former NSA contractor fled to Russia following his actions and has remained there ever since. Despite this ruling, he still faces espionage charges in the U.S., though President Donald Trump has occasionally floated the idea of a pardon.

The court also ruled that U.S. intelligence leaders lied in their defense of the program once its full extent was revealed. At the time, they insisted that the mass surveillance program was vital in the fight against terrorism and had specifically led to the convictions of Basaaly Saeed Moalin, Ahmed Nasir Taalil Mohamud, Mohamed Mohamud, and Issa Doreh, who were accused of aiding religious extremists in Somalia from their residences in San Diego.

However, citing “the contents of the classified record,” the court stated that these claims about the program’s hand in convicting these individuals were “inconsistent” with the truth.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for our privacy rights,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement. “It makes plain that the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records violated the Constitution.”

US whistleblower Edward Snowden is among 500 leading artists and activists to have signed the open letter in support of Le Monde US whistleblower Edward Snowden is among 500 leading artists and activists to have signed the open letter in support of Le Monde Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Phillip Faraone