BANGOR (AP) – The Maine attorney general’s office on Tuesday filed its response to a federal lawsuit aimed at blocking the release of information related to the government’s domestic surveillance program.

The federal government sued after Verizon was ordered to provide a sworn statement about the warrantless eavesdropping program by the Maine Public Utilities Commission, which is looking into whether phone companies violated consumer protection laws.

The federal lawsuit said compliance with the order would “place Verizon in a position of having to confirm or deny the existence of information that cannot be confirmed or denied without causing exceptionally grave harm to national security.”

In a nine-page response in U.S. District Court, Attorney General Steven Rowe responded by saying that the federal courts don’t have jurisdiction in the dispute. He contended the state has a process in place and that the federal government should not try to step in.

Similar cases have surfaced in other states in response to news reports alleging that phone companies have cooperated with government surveillance efforts.

On Monday, New Jersey responded to a federal lawsuit by saying it has the right to obtain information about the surveillance program because it’s no longer secret.


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