A Tuesday press release from WikiLeaks titled “Espionnage Elysee” revealed that the NSA had spied on a number of French high level officials, including successive presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande as well as cabinet ministers and the French ambassador to the U.S.
The latest revelation included a collection of top secret intelligence reports and technical documents from NSA concerning targeting and signals intelligence intercepts of the communications of French officials over the last ten years.
The news broke amid a spate of spying accusations against the NSA among America’s European allies. Earlier, the NSA had reportedly spied on Germany and even cooperated with Germany’s intelligence agency to spy on other European nations.
According to the Associated Press, the documents appear to capture top French officials in Paris between 2006 and 2012 talking candidly about Greece’s economy, relations with Germany, and American spying on allies. While there were no huge surprises, the release of the documents late Tuesday angered and embarrassed French officialdom.
Over the past few years, there has been a heated debate within the U.S. and among its allies about the impact of the sweeping surveillance projects launched by the NSA.
Americans are in doubt whether the state organ should abuse privacy rights when combating terrorism. That debate came to the international stage following accusations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The NSA allegedly spied on multiple diplomatic missions of the EU and the UN Headquarters in New York, and Washington had reportedly secretly peered at Berlin. Washington allegedly carried out large-scale electronic espionage in Germany and reportedly hacked into German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone.
William Binney, former intelligence official of the US NSA, arrived in Berlin to testify at the Bundestag commission investigating the role of the US NSA in Germany on July 3, 2014
Since WikiLeaks’ statement was released, neither the French Foreign Ministry nor the US State Department has made any comment on the issue.
The Associated Press reported that France summoned the U.S. ambassador on Wednesday to respond to the revelations by WikiLeaks that the U.S. National Security Agency eavesdropped on three successive French presidents and other top officials.
French President Hollande, calling the U.S. spying an “unacceptable” security breach, convened two emergency meetings as a result of the disclosures about the NSA’s spying.
The first was with France’s top security officials, the second with leading legislators, many of whom have already voted for the new surveillance measure. Hollande was to speak on Wednesday with President Barack Obama on the issue.
Story compiled with information from Xinhua, CCTV, Reuters and The Associated Press.