French President Francois Hollande has described reports from WikiLeaks that Washington spied on three French presidents as “unacceptable.” The French Foreign Ministry is summoning the US ambassador to shed light on the allegations.
Hollande released the statement following an emergency meeting with key heads of intelligence and ministers at the Elysee Palace in the French capital.
“France will not tolerate actions that threaten its security and the protection of its interests,” the president’s office said, adding that allegations of spying on French interests had been made in the past. “Commitments were made by the US authorities. They need to be recalled and strictly respected,” Reuters reported.
A French government spokesman said Paris will send a senior intelligence official to the US to discuss the spying reports. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has also summoned the US ambassador to France, Jane Hartley, to explain reports from WikiLeaks.
Before the hastily scheduled conference, Stephane Le Foll, a politician with the Socialist Party, lashed out at Washington. “It is difficult to accept that between allies… there can be this kind of activity, particularly related to wiretapping linked to the president of the Republic,” Le Foll told iTele.
“When we are fighting terrorism, one has trouble imagining or understanding what would motivate an ally to spy on his allies,” he added. “There are enough dangerous crises in the world today.”
The allegations were first revealed by the French daily Liberation and on the Mediapart news website. They say the NSA spied on Presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande from as early as 2006 until May 2012.
The head of Mediapart, Edwy Plenel, said this could be just the tip of the iceberg, as the publication is set to release more documents that show how the French government was snooped on by their “so called allies.” Plenel says the new documents will effectively show how, “the whole of French society can be wiretapped,” the Local reported.
Meanwhile, Kirk Wiebe, an NSA whistleblower, told RT that the fallout of this scandal could be more damaging than previous revelations in Europe, such as the NSA tapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, as Paris has a more independent foreign policy than some of its European allies.
“France is a little more independent minded, at least in my perspective than some of the other traditional friends of the United States in Europe. Germany probably along with England are the closest two allies – France is not quite as close. It will be very interesting to see if the French are willing to take steps, which are not something that is merely symbolic.”
“Do we really have the luxury to spy on our friends when we don’t seem to have the ability to catch the truly bad guys,” said Wiebe.