U.S. appeals ruling against NSA phone surveillance

WASHINGTON Fri Jan 3, 2014 2:41pm EST

WASHINGTON Jan 3 (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department on Friday filed an appeal of a federal court ruling that said the government's gathering of Americans' phone records is likely unlawful.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in December criticized the National Security Agency's so-called metadata counter terrorism program and said he could not imagine a more 'indiscriminate' and 'arbitrary invasion' than the program.

The government asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to reconsider the lower court opinion. (Reporting by Aruna Viswanatha; Editing by Diane Craft)