NSA eavesdropped on last three French presidents

Updated: 2015-06-24 09:15


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NSA eavesdropped on last three French presidents

Nicolas Sarkozy, former French president and current UMP conservative political party head, attends a political rally in the Essonne department as he campaigns for French departmental elections in Palaiseau, near Paris, March 16, 2015.  [Photo/Agencies]


Former NSA employee Edward Snowden created an uproar in Germany after he revealed that Washington had carried out large-scale electronic espionage in Germany and claimed the NSA had bugged Merkel's phone.

"While the German disclosures focused on the isolated fact that senior officials were targeted by US intelligence, WikiLeaks' publication today provides much greater insight into US spying on its allies," WikiLeaks said.

This includes "the actual content of intelligence products deriving from the intercepts, showing how the US spies on the phone calls of French leaders and ministers for political, economic and diplomatic intelligence".

WikiLeaks said NSA intercepts showed that French President Francois Hollande called a secret meeting of his cabinet about the potential consequences of a Greek exit from the euro zone as early as May 2012.

It also said the Socialist Hollande, who at that point had been in power a few days, had been disappointed by a first meeting as president with conservative German Chancellor Angela Merkel and requested talks with leaders of the Social Democratic Party, her centre-left junior coalition partner.

"Hollande stressed that the meeting would be secret," WikiLeaks quoted an NSA intercept from May 22, 2012 as saying of talks he requested with "appropriate ministers" in his cabinet to discuss possible fall-out on France's economy and banks if Greece exited the euro zone.

In another intercept dated June 10, 2011, Sarkozy is said to have considered restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks without US involvement.

An earlier one from 2008 has Sarkozy, widely considered in France to be pro-American, being critical of the US government's handling of the financial crisis.

"The president blamed many of the current economic problems on mistakes made by the US government, but believes that Washington is now heeding some of his advice," it said.

The French president's office was not immediately reachable for comment.

The French foreign ministry declined to comment on the WikiLeaks statement.

The US State Department also declined to comment.

Hollande's office said on Tuesday the president plans to meet with his defence committee on Wednesday to discuss the WikiLeaks statement.

Michele Alliot-Marie, former defence and foreign affairs minister under Chirac and Sarkozy, told France's iTele TV channel that France had long known that the US had the technical means to try to intercept conversations.

"We are not naive, the conversations that took place between the defence ministry and the president did not happen on the telephone," she said. "That being said, it does raise the problem of the relationship of trust between allies."


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