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The leak came to light as Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is being tried in military court under federal espionage and computer fraud laws for releasing classified documents to WikiLeaks about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other items. The most serious charge against him is aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence. But the military operates under a different legal system.
If Snowden is forced to return to the United States to face charges, whistleblower advocates said Monday that they would raise money for his legal defense.
Clapper has ordered an internal review to assess how much damage the disclosures created. Intelligence experts say terrorist suspects and others seeking to attack the U.S. all but certainly will find alternate ways to communicate instead of relying on systems that now are widely known to be under surveillance.
The Obama administration must also now deal with the political and diplomatic fallout of the disclosures. Privacy laws across much of Western Europe are stricter than they are in the United States.
On Tuesday, the European Parliament, through its 27-nation executive arm, will debate the spy programs and whether they have violated local privacy protections. E.U. officials in Brussels pledged to seek answers from U.S. diplomats at a trans-Atlantic ministerial meeting in Dublin that begins Thursday.
"It would be unacceptable and would need swift action from the EU if indeed the U.S. National Security Agency were processing European data without permission," said Guy Verhofstadt, a leader in the Alde group of liberal parties.
Additionally, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters Monday that Chancellor Angela Merkel would question President Barack Obama about the NSA program when he’s in Berlin on June 18 for his first visit to the German capital as president. In Germany, privacy regulations are especially strict, and the NSA programs could tarnish a visit that both sides had hoped would reaffirm strong German-American ties.
In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague was forced to deny allegations that the U.K. government had used information provided by the Americans to circumvent British laws. "We want the British people to have confidence in the work of our intelligence agencies and in their adherence to the law and democratic values," Hague told Parliament.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama is open for a discussion about the spy programs, both with allies and in Congress. His administration has aggressively defended the two programs and credited them with helping stop at least two terrorist attacks, including one in New York City.
But privacy rights advocates say Obama has gone too far. The American Civil Liberties Union and Yale Law School filed legal action Monday to force a secret U.S. court to make public its opinions justifying the scope of some of the surveillance, calling the programs "shockingly broad." And conservative lawyer Larry Klayman filed a separate lawsuit against the Obama administration, claiming he and others have been harmed by the government’s collection of as many as 3 billion phone numbers each day.
Army records indicate Snowden enlisted in the Army Reserve as a Special Forces recruit in May 2007 and was discharged that September without completing any training or getting any awards.
Associated Press writers Donna Cassata, Frederic Frommer and Matt Apuzzo in Washington, Robert H. Reid in Berlin and Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong contributed to this report.
Follow Lara Jakes on Twitter at https://twitter.com/larajakesAP
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