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Report: U.S. Spied On Calls Of 35 Leaders

EU leaders, meeting for a summit in Brussels, have raised alarms about reported U.S. spying.

EU leaders, meeting for a summit in Brussels, have raised alarms about reported U.S. spying.

A new report in a British newspaper says the United States monitored the telephone calls of 35 world leaders.

The report in "The Guardian" cites a document from 2006 that was leaked by former U.S. national security contractor Edward Snowden.

The report did not name the leaders who were spied on by the National Security Agency (NSA).

The report said a U.S. official had given the NSA more than 200 phone numbers for 35 leaders that had been provided by the White House, Defense Department, and State Department.

The disclosure comes amid a furor in Germany, and in the wider European Union, over allegations that the United States monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone calls.

The White House on October 24 did not deny bugging Merkel’s phone but said such an activity would not happen in the future.

U.S. officials have argued that the surveillance carried out by the United States is similar to the espionage conducted by many nations.

Critics, however, citing this year’s revelations by Snowden, say U.S. agencies are sweeping up vast volumes of Internet and telephone data that go beyond what is necessary to battle extremists.

At an EU summit in Brussels, EU Council President Herman van Rompuy said the leaders of Germany and France will seek to negotiate an “understanding” with Washington on the work of intelligence services.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that for many Europeans, eavesdropping on their phone calls or reading their e-mails is particularly objectionable because it raises the specter of totalitarian regimes like the fascists and communists of decades past.

"Obviously, the revelations over the recent months and days have shaken personal privacy and data security," Barroso said. "This is a very serious issue because for us Europeans these are fundamental values."

Reports said some European politicians had called for the suspension of negotiations with Washington on an EU-U.S. free trade deal in reaction to the spying allegations.

But this was ultimately rejected, with Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta saying there was “no connection” between the spying and trade issues.

In another development, a group of Hollywood film figures have added their voices to the outcry against U.S. surveillance activities.

Personalities including director Oliver Stone and actors John Cusack and Maggie Gyllenhall appear in a new video in which they say that the freedoms of Americans are at risk because of out-of-control surveillance by the government.

The video was released ahead of an anti-spying march planned for October 26 in Washington called “Stop Watching Us.”

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and dpa