U.S. to declassify documents on spy programs, surveillance court

WASHINGTON Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:41pm EDT

A general view of the large former monitoring base of the U.S. intelligence organization National Security Agency (NSA) during break of dawn in Bad Aibling south of Munich, July 11, 2013. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

A general view of the large former monitoring base of the U.S. intelligence organization National Security Agency (NSA) during break of dawn in Bad Aibling south of Munich, July 11, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Michael Dalder

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. spy agencies plan to declassify documents about the National Security Agency surveillance programs revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden, and also material related to a secret intelligence court, a U.S. intelligence official said.

The declassified documents could be released as early as this week and were intended to provide the public more information about the programs as part of a commitment by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for more transparency, the official told Reuters on Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

The documents would also include information about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court which operates in secrecy, the official said. The move to declassify the information was first reported by CNN.

Snowden's release of information about the NSA surveillance programs to American and European media outlets sparked an uproar over revelations that U.S. intelligence agencies had collected data on phone calls and other communications of Americans and foreign citizens as a tool for fighting terrorism.

The move to declassify more information about the surveillance programs, which intelligence officials say have helped thwart terrorist attacks, comes as some lawmakers seek curbs in response to privacy concerns.

Snowden has been charged under the U.S. Espionage Act and is stuck at an airport in Russia while seeking asylum in a country that will not hand him over to the United States.

(Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria; editing by Andrew Hay)

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