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Obama: spying essential for national security

The president says the collection of billions of data records by the NSA would go on to protect America

Published: Updated:

The U.S. intelligence service will continue spying on foreign governments, President Barack Obama said in an interview on Saturday, despite a global outrage over the matter.

Obama said the collection of billions of data records by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) would go on to protect America.

In Friday's long-awaited speech aimed at quelling international furore over the widespread eavesdropping revealed by Edward Snowden, Obama also said he had halted spy taps on friendly world leaders.

But in an interview broadcasted on German television Saturday, Obama said intelligence gathering on foreign governments will continue.

“Our intelligence agencies, like German intelligence agencies, and every intelligence agency out there, will continue to be interested in the government intentions of countries around the world. That's not going to change,” he told German television ZDF's heute-journal.

“And there is no point in having an intelligence service if you are restricted to the things that you can read in the New York Times or Der Spiegel.

“The truth of the matter is that by definition the job of intelligence is to find out: Well, what are folks thinking? What are they doing?”, he said.

Nevertheless, Obama had also assured Chancellor Angela Merkel that he would not let intrusive surveillance harm their relationship.

“I don't need and I don't want to harm that relationship by a surveillance mechanism that somehow would impede the kind of communication and trust that we have,” he said.

“And so what I can say is: as long as I'm president of the United States, the chancellor of Germany will not have to worry about this,” he added.

“I don't need and I don't want to harm that relationship by a surveillance mechanism that somehow would impede the kind of communication and trust that we have,” he said.

“And so what I can say is: as long as I'm president of the United States, the chancellor of Germany will not have to worry about this,” he added.

Obama pledged on Friday that the NSA would not routinely spy on leaders of America's closest allies, following global outrage at revelations of massive electronic eavesdropping.

Germany has been incensed to learn that the NSA was carrying out widespread spying, including listening in on Merkel's mobile phone conversations.

(With AFP)

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