Jimmy Carter

Washington — Former US president Jimmy Carter has admitted he uses snail mail to evade monitoring by the National Security Agency and that he feels such surveillance methods have been abused.

"When I want to communicate with a foreign leader privately, I type or write a letter myself, put it in the post office, and mail it," Carter said with a laugh, as he was questioned on the matter on NBC's "Meet the Press" program.

"I have felt that my own communications are probably monitored," he said on the Sunday show.

A trove of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have sparked outrage in the United States and abroad about the vast capabilities of America's intelligence programs.

Officials have defended the methods as necessary to thwart terror attacks but President Barack Obama has ordered reforms in the wake of the disclosures.

Asked whether the programs were necessary, Carter said he thought they had "been extremely liberalized and, I think, abused by our own intelligence agencies."

"I believe if I send an email, it will be monitored," he said.