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Secret court approves new US order for collecting Verizon phone records in surveillance sweep

A secret intelligence court has decided to continue an order that forces Verizon Communications to turn over hundreds of millions of telephone records to the government each day in its search for foreign terror or espionage suspects.

The longstanding Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order must be renewed every three months. It had been set to expire Friday.

National Intelligence Director James Clapper announced the new order.

The surveillance program has been under intense scrutiny since June, when former CIA employee and National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of two top secret U.S. surveillance programs that critics say violate privacy rights.

Snowden has been charged with espionage and is seeking asylum from several countries, including Russia.

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