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Last Updated: Friday, 6 July 2007, 18:52 GMT 19:52 UK
US court dismisses 'spying' case
Man using mobile phone
US citizens' phone calls and e-mails to overseas were monitored
A US appeals court has dismissed a case challenging President George W Bush's domestic surveillance programme.

The judges in Cincinnati ruled 2-1 that the groups which brought the lawsuit, including the American Civil Liberties Union, had no legal right to sue.

The ruling strikes down a lower court's order that found the programme, adopted after 9/11, to be unconstitutional.

It allowed the government to monitor contacts between US citizens and terror suspects abroad, without a warrant.

While President Bush says his wartime powers allowed him to authorise surveillance without the need for a warrant, critics say he violated Americans' civil liberties.

Mr Bush decided not to renew the domestic spying programme in January this year.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the government would instead seek approval from a special court for wiretaps.

'No law broken'

The case dismissed in Cincinnati was the furthest advanced of several legal challenges to the government's surveillance of domestic terror suspects.

Judge Julia Smith Gibbons, who was in the 2-1 majority, said the plaintiffs had failed to show that they were personally affected by the programme.

The judge who dissented said he would uphold last year's ruling, saying it was clear that the programme violated a 1978 rule prohibiting surveillance of US citizens on US soil without a warrant.

The Cincinnati court did not rule on the legality or otherwise of the programme itself, which was widely criticised by Democrats and rights groups when it became public in 2005.

Last month, the Democratic-led Senate Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena ordering the White House to give up documents related to its surveillance of domestic terror suspects as part of an inquiry into the programme.

The administration had refused a series of requests to release the documents. It is unclear whether it will comply with the subpoena.

The president rejects claims that he broke the law by ordering surveillance without first securing warrants.

The programme, authorised after the 9/11 attacks, enabled the government to monitor the overseas e-mail and telephone communications of Americans suspected of ties to terrorists.

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