Alleged NSA Spying 'Unacceptable,' French President Hollande Says

by Henry Austin /  / Updated  / Source: Reuters

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French President Francois Hollande branded alleged spying by the National Security Agency on him and two predecessors as "unacceptable" on Wednesday.

"France will not tolerate actions that threaten its security and the protection of its interests," Hollande's office said in a statement as he held an emergency meeting with top ministers and army commanders to discuss intercepts released by WikiLeaks.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the U.S. must do everything it can, and quickly, to "repair the damage" to U.S.-French relations, calling the revelations "a very serious violation of the spirit of trust" between the allies."

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also summoned the U.S. ambassador to France to explain a report by the whistleblowing website on alleged espionage which took place between 2006 and 2012, a French diplomatic source told Reuters.

Image: File photos of Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande
Jacques Chirac (left), Nicolas Sarkozy (Center) and French President Francois Hollande (right).OLIVER WEIKEN / JULIEN WARNAND /JAN WOITAS / EPA File

Intercepts published in French daily newspaper Liberation and investigative website Mediapart late Tuesday include material that appeared to capture officials in Paris talking candidly about Greece's economy and relations with Germany.

WikiLeaks said Hollande, a Socialist who at that point had been in power a few days, had expressed disappointment over his first meeting as president with conservative German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Stressing the “meeting would be secret” he instead requested talks with leaders of the Social Democratic Party, her center-left junior coalition partner.

His predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy was also said have to have considered restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks without U.S. involvement, according to another intercept dated June 10, 2011.

Although he was widely considered to be pro-American, Sarkozy “blamed many of the current economic problems on mistakes made by the U.S. government,” an earlier one from 2008 said.

Jacques Chirac, who led the country between 1995 and 2008, was also said to have been targeted along with French Cabinet minsters and Paris' ambassador to the U.S.

Justifying the release of the documents, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the French people "have a right to know that their elected government is subject to hostile surveillance from a supposed ally."

National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said: "We are not targeting and will not target the communications of President Hollande. Indeed, as we have said previously, we do not conduct any foreign intelligence surveillance activities unless there is a specific and validated national security purpose. This applies to ordinary citizens and world leaders alike. We work closely with France on all matters of international concern, and the French are indispensable partners."

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