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Obama seeks balance on free press, classified information leaks

U.S. President Barack Obama steps off stage after speaking at a Democratic Party fundraiser at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York, May 13
U.S. President Barack Obama steps off stage after speaking at a Democratic Party fundraiser at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York, May 13

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House, under pressure from reports that the Justice Department seized Associated Press phone records, said on Tuesday that President Barack Obama is seeking to balance support for a free press with the need to investigate leaks of classified information.

"The president believes that the press as a rule needs to have an unfettered ability to pursue investigative journalism," White House spokesman Jay Carney told a news briefing.

"He is also committed, as president and as a citizen, to the proposition that we cannot allow classified information, that can do harm to our national security interests or do harm to individuals, to be leaked," Carney said.

Beyond that, he said the White House could not comment on the specific investigation that provoked the reported seizure of journalists' phone records.

(Reporting By Laura MacInnis, Mark Felsenthal and Jeff Mason; Editing by Sandra Maler and Vicki Allen)

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