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Obama may ban U.S. intelligence collection on allied leaders

Pro-democracy lawamaker Gary Fan holds a combination photo featuring U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), during a news conference in Hong Kong, in support of Snowden, June 14, 2013.
Credit: Reuters/Bobby Yip
Pro-democracy lawamaker Gary Fan holds a combination photo featuring U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), during a news conference in Hong Kong, in support of Snowden, June 14, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Bobby Yip

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama may ban U.S. spying on allied leaders as part of a review of intelligence gathering, a senior Obama administration official said on Tuesday amid a diplomatic uproar over the National Security Agency's surveillance ability.

A week after reports surfaced that the eavesdropping extended to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone, Obama is under pressure to take steps to reassure Americans and allies.

A senior administration official said the United States has made some individual changes in eavesdropping practices but as yet had not made across-the-broad policy changes such as ending intelligence collection that might be aimed at allies.

The official said the White House is considering a ban on intelligence collection aimed at allied leaders. A White House review that Obama ordered after NSA documents were made public by former contractor Edward Snowden is expected to be completed by year's end.

Obama has come under fierce criticism abroad over allegations the NSA tapped Merkel's mobile phone and conducted widespread electronic snooping in France, Italy, Spain and elsewhere.

At least some of the spying appeared to have been done without Obama's knowledge.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who leads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Monday that her committee will conduct a major review of all intelligence collection programs

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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