• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Hollande to US: Stop spying on us now

The Local/AFP · 1 Jul 2013, 14:57

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.

Story continues below…

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
France charges Charlie Hebdo killer’s relative
The suspect was charged after being handed over to French authorities by Bulgaria. Dimitar Dilkoff /AFP

The brother-in-law of one of the jihadists who attacked French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last year faced terrorism charges on Saturday for allegedly trying to join Islamic State fighters in Syria, a judicial source said.

French mayors dismiss suspended burqini ban
Photo: Jean Christophe Magnenet /AFP

The row over France’s burqini ban continues with several mayors vowing to keep restrictions in place despite the country’s top court suspending the ban in the resort town of Villeneuve-Loubet.

France's top court suspends burqini ban
Photo: bellmon1/Flickr

France's highest administrative court has suspended a town's ban on wearing the full-body burqini swimsuit.

Milk price raised, but French farmers still unhappy
The sign on the tractor reads 'We're dying', as farmers blocked Lactalis dairy headquarters. Photo: AFP

Milk prices have been raised by France's biggest dairy group to placate farmers, but unions say their demands have not been met.

Burqini bans 'dividing France's Muslim women'
Photo: AFP

The burqini bans have divided France, but they have also left Muslim women in France in two groups, argues a professor who has spent years studying the impact of the burqa.

Pizza-delivery drones could be on their way to France
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's your pizza. Photo: AFP

No more need to deal with grumpy French waiters...

Heatwave drags on as France faces red-hot weekend
Photo: AFP

France will see searing temperatures on Friday and Saturday, as the heatwave warnings have been extended (once again).

Nice: The French capital of burqini fines
The beach in the Riviera city of Nice. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

It's one of only two of the 30 towns with a burqini ban in place to have actually given out any fines.

How to make France's famed Île Flottante dessert
Photo: Paul Oatway

France-based food blogger Laura Tobin shares her recipe for this delicious French dessert.

France's top court set to rule on burqini ban
Photo: bellmon1/Flickr

France's highest administrative court will decide this afternoon whether to overturn the burqini ban.

Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Education
French schools to ramp up security with 'mock attacks'
Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Features
Where to go in France to find the best ice cream
National
Majority in France against burqinis on beaches
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Society
Parisians invited to swim in the Bassin de la Villette
Society
Five tips for surviving an internship in France
Politics
Déja vu? Familiar faces in France's presidential race
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Meet the man paying off burqini fines in France
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Eight tips on buying wine in a French supermarket
Society
Here's how to enjoy Paris (while avoiding the heat)
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Society
Ten mistakes to avoid when dating a Frenchman
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Twelve 'French' things that aren't actually French at all
'World's priciest home' on sale in French Riviera for €1 billion
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Lifestyle
RECIPE: How to make the tastiest ratatouille
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
Paris sees Europe's biggest plunge in 'liveability'
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
Life on the home front in rural France's 'war on terror'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Features
Weird facts you didn't know about the French language
Society
Paris foodie event cancelled over lack of security
How to tackle six of the trickiest French verbs
National
Summer in France - 'the ideal time to find a job'
National
'Burqini bans will only divide France more'
National
French vineyards revive horse-drawn ploughs
French mayor bans Pokemon Go app from his village
2,753
jobs available