Communications by Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and current leader Francois Hollande targeted by NSA over last decade, reveals WikiLeaks
ADDS OBAMA-HOLLANDE CALL
By Hajer M’tiri with additional reporting by Michael Hernandez in Washington
PARIS – Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius summoned on Wednesday afternoon the U.S. ambassador to France to discuss WikiLeaks revelations regarding the National Security Agency (NSA) spying on the last three French presidents, including current leader Francois Hollande.
“The minister will summon Jane Hartley, U.S. ambassador to France, at 6.00 p.m. [1600GMT] to discuss the WikiLeaks revelations,” the press office of the Foreign Ministry told Anadolu Agency. The U.S. embassy in Paris declined to comment.
Whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks revealed the secret documents, reported late Tuesday by French newspaper Liberation and French online investigative and opinion website Mediapart.
In a report entitled Espionnage Elysee (Elysee spying), WikiLeaks said: “The top secret documents derive from directly targeted NSA surveillance of the communications of French presidents Francois Hollande (2012–present), Nicolas Sarkozy (2007–2012), and Jacques Chirac (1995–2007), as well as French cabinet ministers and the French ambassador to the United States.”
According to Liberation, the U.S. embassy in Paris played a major role in the wiretapping.
The newspaper claims the embassy installed a spy nest in 2004/2005 on the rooftop of the embassy, which is located at Place de la Concorde, just a few hundred meters from the Elysee Palace, the National Assembly as well as other ministries.
Following an emergency Defense Council meeting Wednesday, the French presidency said in a statement it “will not tolerate” any threats to its security.
“These are unacceptable facts that have already arisen between the United States and France, particularly in late 2013 when the first [spying] revelations during the state visit of the president of the Republic to the United States in February 2014,” read the statement.
“At the time commitments were made by U.S. authorities. They should be remembered and strictly observed,” added the statement.
“France, which has further strengthened its control and protection, will not tolerate anything that could jeopardize the security and protection of his interests,” said the French presidency.
U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with French President Francois Hollande Wednesday amid the fallout from the spying allegations.
During the call, Obama “reiterated that we have abided by the commitment we made to our French counterparts in late 2013 that we are not targeting and will not target the communications of the French president,” according to the White House.
“As the president noted during President Hollande’s state visit to Washington, D.C., in February 2014, we are committed to our productive and indispensable intelligence relationship with France, which allows us to make progress against shared threats,” the White House added.
French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said France will send a top intelligence official to the United States to discuss the leaked reports.
“France’s national intelligence coordinator [Didier Le Bret] will go to the United States to discuss the understanding between France and the United States” referring to the deal reached after earlier revelations in 2013, that spying would no longer be carried out, Le Foll said in a press conference.
The infamous whistle-blowing site, which rose to fame publishing damning documents regarding the U.S. military’s activities in Afghanistan, added: “The documents also contain the ‘selectors’ from the target list, detailing the cell phone numbers of numerous officials in the Elysee up to and including the direct cellphone of the president.”
According to WikiLeaks, the top secret intelligence documents are “summaries of conversations between French government officials concerning some of the most pressing issues facing France and the international community”.
They consist of “the global financial crisis, the Greek debt crisis, the leadership and future of the European Union, the relationship between the Hollande administration and the German government of Angela Merkel, French efforts to determine the makeup of the executive staff of the United Nations, French involvement in the conflict in Palestine”.
Ironically, the summaries also include a dispute between Paris and Washington over the issue of the U.S. spying on France.
WikiLeaks defended its revelations saying it “provides much greater insight into U.S. spying on its allies, including the actual content of intelligence products deriving from the intercepts, showing how the U.S. spies on the phone calls of French leaders and ministers for political, economic and diplomatic intelligence”.
“Coming soon: New WikiLeaks publications will give further evidence as to U.S. true goals in its mass espionage of France,” the whistle-blowing website said.