updated 5/18/2006 5:53:36 PM ET 2006-05-18T21:53:36

BellSouth Corp. is pressing USA Today to retract claims in a story asserting that the telecommunications company provided phone records of its customers to the National Security Agency.

The Atlanta-based company's chief lawyer, Marc Gary, sent a letter Thursday to the publisher of the newspaper, Craig Moon, and general counsel, Thomas Chapple, asking Gannett Co.'s flagship newspaper to retract "false and unsubstantiated statements" made in a May 11 story, BellSouth spokesman Jeff Battcher said.

Both BellSouth and Verizon Communications Inc., another company cited in the USA Today report, denied this week that they provided calling records to the NSA.

USA Today spokesman Steve Anderson said he had not seen the letter and the newspaper has not made a decision regarding any action it might take.

The newspaper said in a statement released earlier this week that it remained confident in its coverage of the phone database story, but that it would take a closer look.

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