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US to declassify documents on NSA spying, secret FISA surveillance court

The documents are intended to give the public more information about NSA surveillance programs and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court after recent leaks by former contractor Edward Snowden.

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The US government is planning to declassify documents on NSA surveillance programs. Protesters rally outside the US Capitol against the NSA's programs June 13, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The United States government plans to declassify documents about the National Security Agency surveillance programs, first leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, a US intelligence official told Reuters.

In addition to information about the intelligence gathering programs, the documents would also include details about the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which Snowden's leaks revealed.

James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, has reportedly been trying to declassify at least some opinions by the secret court.

A senior US official said the release is part of a  "concerted" and "deliberate" effort to give more information to the American public in the wake of Snowden's leaks, according to CNN.

The highly sensitive documents could be released as early as this week, pending the declassification process.

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The documents leaked by ex-contractor Snowden revealed how US intelligence agencies collected personal phone and internet data on Americans and foreign citizens in an effort to fight terrorism.

Intelligence officials argue it is necessary to collect that information to help prevent future attacks, while critics have cited privacy concerns.

More from GlobalPost: 11 disturbing things Snowden has taught us (so far)

Meanwhile, Snowden has been charged under the US Espionage Act and is currently stuck in the transit area in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport after submitting a request for temporary asylum in Russia. He hopes to seek permanent asylum in Latin America.

More from GlobalPost: Snowden says he never gave Russia or China intelligence information

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130730/us-declassify-nsa-us-declassify-documents-survei