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Spain launches legal inquiry into U.S. spying allegations

U.S. ambassador in Spain, James Costos (L), leaves the foreign ministry after being summoned to a meeting with Spain's European Secretary of
U.S. ambassador in Spain, James Costos (L), leaves the foreign ministry after being summoned to a meeting with Spain's European Secretary of

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's public prosecutor launched a preliminary inquiry on Tuesday into reports that U.S. intelligence has spied on million of its citizens.

Attorney General Eduardo Torres-Dulce authorized an information gathering process after El Mundo newspaper reported on Monday that the United States had tracked more than 60 million Spanish phone calls, his office said in a statement.

Spain summoned the U.S. ambassador on Monday to discuss the allegations, which are similar to reports of U.S. spying in France and Germany that have caused a rare diplomatic upset between the Washington and its European allies.

Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said if the reports were true it would break the "climate of trust" between the two countries.

El Mundo published a graphic it said was a National Security Agency (NSA) document showing the U.S. agency had spied on 60.5 million phone calls in Spain between December 10, 2012 and January 8 this year. It said the document was part of papers obtained from ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

On a visit to Lithuania on Tuesday, Garcia-Margallo stressed Spain's close ties with the United States and said negotiations over a European free-trade agreement would not stop.

"We work very closely with USA on security, we have some common topics where our positions are the same," he told a news conference.

(Reporting by Inmaculada Sanz; Additional reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius; Writing by Sarah White; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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