French Anger At Claims US Spied On Its Last Three Presidents

AP Photo
The Associated Press

The US envoy in Paris has been summoned to an urgent  face-to-face meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius today over claims that the US spied on President Francois Hollande and his two predecessors.

Whistleblower website Wikileaks alleges the US National Security Agency (NSA) spied on Mr Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac between 2006-12.

According to France 24, Mr Hollande called the emergency meeting and said France would “not tolerate” acts that threaten its security. The NSA has previously been accused of spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on Brazilian and Mexican leaders.

The BBC reports that none of the leaks is considered earth-shattering. In one Jacques Chirac pushes for the nomination of Terje Roed-Larsen as UN under-secretary-general. Nicolas Sarkozy says he wants to help Pernod Ricard in a row with the US over rum. Three days after taking office, Francois Hollande calls secret meetings to discuss the Greek crisis.

Despite the tame nature of the revelations, US Ambassador Jane Hartley has been called to account to by French officials.

Ms Hartley is expected to visit the foreign ministry in Paris on Wednesday afternoon. A statement from the French presidency (in French) said the US must respect a promise not to spy on French leaders.

The French statement came after an emergency meeting of security chiefs in Paris. Previous diplomatic cables published on the WikiLeaks website dating from the 1970s revealed that US diplomats at the time were closely monitoring two future French presidents, Chirac and his predecessor, François Mitterrand.

Reacting to outrage from France on Wednesday morning, the White House insisted it was no longer targeting Hollande’s communications and would not do so in the future.

“We are not targeting and will not target the communications of President Hollande,” National Security Council spokesman Ned Price told reporters late on Tuesday, calling the US partnership with France “indispensable” but without addressing what might have been done in the past.

WikiLeaks said French readers could “expect more timely and important revelations in the near future”.

Additional reporting via AFP

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