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John Kerry: NSA spying 'reached too far'

US Secretary of State said a thorough review is underway to prevent inappropriate methods of surveillance

The US Secretary of State has become the most senior member of the Obama administration to admit that activities by intelligence agencies may have gone "too far" as the furore over America’s alleged eavesdropping on their allies continues.

John Kerry said he would work with US President Barack Obama to ensure there would be no further "inappropriate" work carried out by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Mr Kerry’s comments came after Washington was forced to deny reports last week that President Obama knew German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone was under surveillance and did not move in to prevent her communications from being monitored.

Ms Merkel is one of 34 foreign leaders to have been monitored for years, according to intelligence leaks from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Speaking during a conference call, he also defended the need for surveillance as a method of countering terrorism, according to the BBC. “We have actually prevented airplanes from going down, buildings from being blown up, and people from being assassinated because we've been able to learn ahead of time of the plans,” Mr Kerry said.

“I assure you, innocent people are not being abused in this process, but there's an effort to try to gather information. And yes, in some cases, it has reached too far inappropriately.

“And the president, our president, is determined to try to clarify and make clear for people, and is now doing a thorough review in order that nobody will have the sense of abuse,” he added.