U.S. spy allegations cause 'regrettable tensions'

Nov. 19, 2013 at 12:21 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Cybersecurity issues unveiled by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden have led to "regrettable tensions" between the EU and United States, both governments said.

European leaders have expressed concern over the reach of a U.S. surveillance system revealed by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Snowden. The U.S. intelligence community has since been accused of spying on European leaders.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Rand Beers hosted a delegation of justice officials from the European Union, including Lithuanian Minister of Justice Juozas Bernatonis and European Commission Vice President Viviane Reding.

Both sides issued a joint statement Monday from Washington restating their long-standing allegiance.

"We together recognize that this has led to regrettable tensions in the transatlantic relationship, which we seek to lessen," the statement read. "In order to protect all our citizens, it is of the utmost importance to address these issues by restoring trust and reinforcing our cooperation on justice and home affairs issues."

European lawmakers backed legislation in July calling for an in-depth investigation into the surveillance program.

"As a matter of urgency," the joint statement read, both sides are "committed to advancing rapidly in the negotiations for a meaningful and comprehensive data protection umbrella agreement in the field of law enforcement."

A bilateral agreement on the matter is expected by next year.

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