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US Secret Court Renews Phone Surveillance Program

The National Security Administration (NSA) campus is seen in Fort Meade, Md., June 6, 2013.
The secret U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has renewed the government's authority to continue collecting millions of telephone records - one of the classified counter-terrorism programs that was disclosed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a statement Friday that the court had reaffirmed the powers.

The surveillance program has seen intense scrutiny since June, when Snowden revealed once-secret information about government telephone monitoring.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers expressed concerns in the last week about the life span of the surveillance program, suggesting that Congress may not renew legislative authority for it when it comes up for review.

Snowden faces criminal charges and is stuck in the transit zone of a Moscow airport while seeking temporary asylum in Russia. He has said he wants to eventually head to Latin America, but his lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said that Snowden also could ask for Russian citizenship.

The United States is demanding Russia extradite Snowden to stand trial for espionage.