A high-ranking US Republican demanded a criminal prosecution of The New York Times following the newspaper's disclosure of a secret government operation to monitor international finances.
Representative Peter King of New York, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, called the actions of the leading US newspaper "disgraceful" and said on Sunday he believed it had violated counterespionage laws.
"The New York Times is putting its own arrogant, elitist, left-wing agenda before the interests of the American people," the lawmaker said as he appeared on the "Fox News Sunday" television programme.
"And I'm calling on the attorney general to begin a criminal investigation and prosecution of the New York Times, its reporters, the editors that worked on this, and the publisher," he stressed.
The Times was among of group of several US newspapers reporting Friday that the US government had secretly monitored scores of banking transactions around the globe since the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington in order to track suspected terrorists.
The searches involved millions of records held by the Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), an international cooperative that serves as a clearing house for the transactions.
The cooperative serves 7,800 financial institutions in more than 200 countries.
Its database, officials say, has provided valuable information about ties between suspected terrorists and groups financing them, and directly led to the capture of Al-Qaeda operative Riduan Isamuddin, believed to have masterminded the 2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia.