• France's news in English
 

Hollande to US: Stop spying on us now

Published: 01 Jul 2013 10:34 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 Jul 2013 14:57 GMT+02:00

Allegations that the US used covert surveillance to target the French embassy in Washington DC as well as its envoy to the UN in New York have drawn an angry response from Paris.

Reacting to the reports for the first time on Monday French President François Hollande told Washington DC that the covert surveillance of its envoys must "stop immediately".

"We cannot accept this kind of behaviour between partners and allies,"Hollande told journalists during a visit to the northwestern city of Lorient. "We ask that this stop immediately ."

Hollande said "enough elements have already been gathered for us to ask for explanations" from Washington about the spying allegations.

In the latest documents leaked by the fugitive former CIA operative Edward Snowden to the Guardian newspaper it is claimed that the French embassy was one of 38 spying targets conducted by US intelligence services.

Attempts were apparently made to eavesdrop on the French, Italian and Greek embassies in Washington while Japan, Mexico, South Korea, India and Turkey were all named as subjects of operations in a 2010 document.

The revelations have sent minor tremors around Europe and provoked an angry response in Paris as well as Berlin and Brussels.

Reports in German weekly Der Spiegel on Monday that EU diplomatic missions were also put under secret surveillance have added more fuel to the fire and led to calls in France for talks over a landmark EU-US free trade deal to be binned.

"There can be no negotiations or transactions in all areas until we have obtained these guarantees, for France but also for all of the European Union, for all partners of the United States," Hollande said in an apparent reference to the sensitive talks.

"We know well that there are systems that have to be checked, especially to fight terrorism, but I don't think that it is in our embassies or in the European Union that this threat exists," he said.

And the French Minister of Foreign Trade Nicole Bricq said the upcoming talks on the new trade zone, due to begin next week, could be jeopardised.

"This is a topic that could affect relations between Europe and the United States," she told AFP.

"We must absolutely re-establish confidence... it will be difficult to conduct these extremely important negotiations," she said.

Hollande said he had asked Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to get in touch with US Secretary of State John Kerry immediately "to get all the explanations and all the information."

On Sunday Hollande's Foreign Minister expressed his concern over the revelations.

“These facts, if confirmed, would be completely unacceptable,” Fabius said.

“We expect the American authorities to, as quickly as possible, allay the legitimate concerns raised by these media revelations,” he added.

One of the leaked US National Security Agency (NSA) files said that intelligence officials targeted embassies and UN missions by implanting bugs in electronic communications gear, tapping into cables and collecting communications using specialized antennae, according to a report on the Guardian's website on Sunday.

The operation against the French mission to the UN was dubbed 'Blackfoot' and the one against its Washington embassy was known as 'Wabash'.

France’s Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said: “It would be an act of unspeakable hostility if European institutions were indeed under the surveillance of the American secret service.”

The allegations have drawn condemnation not just from the government but from across the political spectrum in France.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front party said: “We can’t be the poodles of the United States.”

And her nemesis from the far-left, Jean-Luc Melenchon, called for EU-US free trade talks to be broken off in protest over the allegations.

“I demand an immediate halt in negotiations and I demand that France grant asylum to Edward Snowden who is a friend of Europe for unmasking this conspiracy,” he said.

The US said on Sunday it would respond to the EU via diplomatic channels over the bugging allegations.

"While we are not going to comment publicly on specific alleged intelligence activities, as a matter of policy we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations," said a statement from the office of the Director of National Intelligence in Washington.

The US authorities issued an arrest warrant this month for Snowden after he revealed details of NSA's so-called PRISM programme which collects and analyzes information from internet and phone users around the world, with access to data from Google, Yahoo! and other Internet firms.

Snowden remains in political limbo at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport after flying in from Hong Kong last week, unable to fly on without legal travel documents or exit the airport without a Russian visa.

The Local/AFP (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
UK councillor blasted for 250km French commute
The commute is around 250 kilometres. Photo: Google Maps

UK councillor blasted for 250km French commute

A councillor from the UK has come under fire in the UK for her long distance commute - from France. Opponents have called for her resignation. READ  

French management style slated by foreigners
French management style has been blasted by foreigners, although they do appreciate the lunch breaks. Management photo: Shutterstock.

French management style slated by foreigners

A massive survey of foreigners working in France has revealed that the French management style is far from being an international role model - but the extended lunch breaks, at least, were a redeeming feature. We take a closer look at the findings. READ  

French set for U-turn on EU-US trade agreement
The EU-US free trade agreement is the cause of much angst in France. Photo: AFP

French set for U-turn on EU-US trade agreement

The proposed free trade zone between the EU and the US is at the centre of a political struggle in France, with the government looking set to make a U-turn over its stance towards one of the most controversial elements of the agreement. READ  

Louvre condemns Iraq jihadist statue-smashing
Islamic State militants gleefully smash ancient statues to pieces with sledgehammers in the main museum and an archeological site in Iraq's second city of Mosul. Photo: AFP

Louvre condemns Iraq jihadist statue-smashing

Paris's famed Louvre museum on Friday reacted in shock to the destruction of priceless artefacts by jihadists in Iraq, saying they hit at the heart of "humanity's memory." READ  

French cartoon festival canned over terror fears
The Caen Memorial where the international press cartoon festival was due to take place. Photo: AFP

French cartoon festival canned over terror fears

UPDATED: In what represents a blow to freedom of speech, France's international press cartoon festival has been cancelled, because organisers fear it could be targeted by terrorists. Cartoonists have accused organisers of giving in to terror. READ  

The official guide on how to be cool in Paris
One of France's ultimate cool icons - Brigitte Bardot - sharing a hint on how to be cool. Photo: Laura Loveday/Flickr

The official guide on how to be cool in Paris

Speaking backwards, hanging out in hidden bars, and picking up a seriously unhealthy addiction. These are among the habits that young Parisians told The Local were the ultimate secrets to being cool in the City of Light. READ  

EU slaps tough budget targets on France
Photo: Sebastian Fuss/Flickr

EU slaps tough budget targets on France

UPDATED: The EU set France tough new targets on Friday to ensure it gets its budget deficit back within Brussels rules, after giving Paris an extra two years until 2017 to comply. READ  

Stolen Paris Picasso sent to New York as '€30 gift'
The Pompidou Centre in central Paris where the Picasso was stolen from. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Stolen Paris Picasso sent to New York as '€30 gift'

A Picasso painting that was reported stolen in Paris 14 years ago has turned up in the United States after being sent across the Atlantic via the postal service disguised as a €30 Christmas present. READ  

Pyrénées
Woman dies after being 'caught in snow blower'
A woman has died in the Pyrenees after apparently being sucked into a snow blower. Photo: Msdot/flickr

Woman dies after being 'caught in snow blower'

Police at a ski resort in the Pyrénées are investigating after a young woman died after apparently being sucked into a snow blower. READ  

'France feels like Nazi Germany,' says Madonna
Madonna says that France and Europe feel like Nazi Germany. Photo: AFP

'France feels like Nazi Germany,' says Madonna

Rebounding from her stage tumble at the Brit awards, pop star Madonna told French radio Thursday that "intolerance" was now so high in France and Europe that "it feels like Nazi Germany." READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Here's how to be cool in Paris, according to Parisians
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best one to work in?
National
How can France enforce a no-drone zone over Paris?
National
Why do so many women in France smoke throughout their pregnancy?
National
VIDEO: Banned but beautiful - Paris seen through the eyes of a drone
Culture
What's on in France: Ten things to do in March
National
Would you want this Frenchman to squeal at YOUR wedding?
National
'We're back' - Charlie Hebdo magazine returns with a bite
Society
Handsome men on the Paris Metro are unknowingly going viral
Society
What are the little things that make France so different?
National
Should we be worried about drones being flown over Paris?
Travel
Another deadly avalanche in the French Alps
National
Text offences: Why French workers need to watch out in future
Gallery
Mont-Saint-Michel cut off as 'supertide' season opens in France
Gallery
Ten great moments for France throughout Oscar history
Culture
Anglo-French marriage problems begin long before anyone says 'Oui'
Travel
'The stars are aligned': Why now is the time to buy a house in France
National
IN PICTURES: 'Supertide' brings crowds to the French coast
Gallery
French property Face-off: Two luxury chalets in the French Alps
Travel
French coastal towns are braced for the 'tide of the century'
Sponsored Article
Tourist or lifer: what sort of expat are you?
Politics
Socialist rebel MPs are angry but not ready to topple French government
Society
France to welcome another US fast food giant
Culture
Les Entrepreneurs: How to watch Paris theatre shows in English
Culture
So where are all these swinging sex clubs in Paris?
Sport
VIDEO: 'We're racist' - Chelsea fans push black man off Paris Metro
Culture
Sex clubs touted as latest fashion in Paris
Culture
In pictures: The ever-colourful Dunkirk carnival
National
Do you worry about your French accent? Perhaps you have no need to
National
VIDEO: 'Fear and loathing' - Being a Jew in Paris
National
Why the DSK trial could spell bad news for French prostitutes
Society
The sorry recent history of anti-Semitic attacks in France
National
'Je suis Danois' - Paris shows solidarity with Copenhagen
Culture
Obituary: Louis Jourdan - The actor who embodied French elegance
National
France outraged after hundreds of Jewish tombs vandalised
Culture
Romance in France: Sex, Champagne and Je t'aime
Culture
Fox News was right, there are no-go zones in Paris (for anyone single)
Culture
Fifty Shades of Grey OK for French 12-year-olds
Culture
French property face-off: Rustic cottage vs manor
Politics
New Muslim party aims for French election wins
Gallery
What do the French get superstitious about?
International
Paris starts lawsuit over Fox News's no-go zones
National
Gun ads see French cops compared to Dirty Harry
Travel
The world's most popular selfie spot has been revealed...
Sponsored Article
Are you an American expat? How to face FATCA
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se