Washington, Oct 30: US National Security Agency Director General Keith Alexander Tuesday told lawmakers that the recent media reports about the agency’s spying on European allies were “completely false”.
Top US intelligence officials testified before the US Congress, the first of its kind following recent media disclosures about US spying on European allies, including millions of citizens in France and Spain and Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel, Xinhua reported.
“The assertions by reporters in France, Spain, Italy that NSA collected tens of millions of phone calls are completely false,” said Alexander at a House Intelligence Committee hearing.
The NSA chief said such data in question came from foreign intelligence agencies and was usually gathered outside Europe.
“This is not information that we collected on European citizens, ” he said, adding that the European media has misinterpreted the classified documents leaked by former US defense contractor Edward Snowden.
Instead, the information represented information that the US and its NATO allies have collected “in defense of our countries”, he said.
Speaking at the same hearing, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said the NSA and the US intelligence community do not spy indiscriminately on citizens of any country.
“We do not spy on anyone except for valid foreign intelligence purposes,” he added.
He also warned Congress not to overreact to the media disclosures and thus undermine counterterrorism programmes.