This story is over 5 years old.


Pissed Off French Leaders Respond to 'Unacceptable' NSA Spying Revealed by WikiLeaks

Indignant French officials demanded answers from their American counterparts on Wednesday after learning that the NSA eavesdropped on the last three French presidents.
Imagen por Ian Langsdon/EPA

A day after WikiLeaks released classified National Security Agency (NSA) reports indicating that the US spied on France's last three presidents, indignant French officials demanded answers from their American counterparts.

France's Foreign Ministry summoned the US ambassador for an explanation about the alleged eavesdropping on Wednesday, while President Barack Obama spoke to French President François Hollande on the phone.


"Commitments were made by our American allies. They must be firmly recalled and strictly respected," French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said. "Being loyal doesn't mean falling into line."

Valls also called on the US to "make reparations" for the harm done by NSA eavesdropping, and proposed a "code of conduct" to be established for spying practices among allied countries.

Related: Leaked NSA Reports Allegedly Show the US Spied on France's Last Three Presidents

According to the White House, Obama told Hollande that he was keeping the promise he made in 2013 not to spy on French leaders after leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the extent of US surveillance. Obama also vowed to continue closely cooperating with France on intelligence and security matters, the White House said.

In light of the recent disclosures, the French government was accused of hypocrisy after MPs voted Wednesday for a controversial bill that would allow French intelligence agencies to eavesdrop on the phone calls and internet activity of citizens without the approval of a judge. French authorities say the bill is intended to combat Islamic extremism. The measure passed despite the criticism, but it still needs approval from the country's high court.

Hollande's office also announced that a French official will soon visit the US to strengthen ties between the two nations and discuss the NSA revelations further.


The WikiLeaks documents were published in cooperation with French newspaper Libération and online investigative outlet Mediapart. Fabrice Arfi, a Mediapart reporter, told VICE News that there are "other revelations, other documents that will be published," but declined to give further details.

France's Defense Council met this morning at the Élysée Palace — the namesake of the WikiLeaks dossier of NSA documents — and the president's office later issued a communiqué calling the alleged US actions "unacceptable," and insisting that France "would not tolerate any actions that put French security and the protection of French interests in danger."

The White House responded early Wednesday morning, with National Security Council spokesman Ned Parker saying US agencies "are not targeting and will not target the communications of President Hollande." The statement made no mention of former French presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, who were also allegedly targets of NSA spying.

French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius also summoned the US ambassador in Paris, Jane Hartley, for a meeting Wednesday afternoon. Meanwhile, Hollande received a delegation of parliamentarians at the Élysee Palace to "take stock" of the revelations.

Related: Germany Accused of Spying on France and Engaging in Industrial Espionage on Behalf of NSA

Alongside the information about the alleged NSA eavesdropping, Libération and other media outlets renewed previous speculation about a hypothetical "listening station" on the roof of the US Embassy in Paris, which is near the Élysée Palace and several official buildings. The blog Zone d'Intérêt first mentioned this possible station in 2013, suggesting that it could be camouflaged behind a façade on the top floor.

The US Embassy in Paris did not respond to questions about the NSA documents and the speculation about the listening station on its roof when contacted Wednesday by VICE News.

VICE News' Arijeta Lajka and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Matthieu Jublin on Twitter: @MatthieuJublin

Photo via Wikimedia Commons