• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

US embassy in Paris is 'home to secret spy nest'

Ben McPartland · 24 Jun 2015, 12:23

Published: 24 Jun 2015 12:23 GMT+02:00

Follow our live blog here for more reaction from France on the revelations. 

As revelations emerged on Wednesday that the US spied on not one, but three French presidents, focus was being turned to the roof of the US embassy in Paris.

The embassy is located just a stone's throw away from the Elysée palace where the three presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande all resided over the last ten years.

Liberation newspaper, one of the publications that revealed the spying claims, suggested the building is home to secret rooftop spy station hidden behind a canvas, with fake windows painted on it.

It might seem too simple to be true but according to Liberation this is where the US intelligence services snooped on communications from the Elysée and various ministries, all located nearby.

The paper claims the Special Collection Service, a unit combined by the members of the CIA and the NSA, were in charge of collecting the data.

According to a source in the French intelligence services who has spoken to AFP, Paris knew all about the "secret spy den".
 
"It's common knowledge that the monitoring system had been installed on the roof of the embassy," said the source.
 
"Since this system is not intrusive and on US soil, there's not much France can do."
 

The spying den was installed back in 2004/05 during work on the roof of the embassy, the paper claims.

Concealed behind the canvas, which allows electro-magnetic signals to pass through, are a number of antennas that can pick up phone conversations in the vicinity, Jean-Marc Manarch, the Liberation journalist behind the claims, told BFM TV.

A spokeswoman for the US embassy in Paris told The Local they would not be commenting on claims about the rooftop spy den.

Claims of the secret snooping station were first made by the blog Zone d’Interet in 2013, which claimed that many US embassies around the world have similar units, notably Berlin, Madrid and Stockholm.

In 2013 it was claimed that the NSA spied on Angela Merkel's mobile phone from a spy station installed at the US embassy in Berlin.

However experts claim news of US spying on France's presidents shouldn't come as a surprise.

“It’s a storm in a tea cup. Nothing will happen and it will be allowed to blow over,” Nicolas Dungan, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council told The Local.

“Hollande has no choice but to say publically ‘the president of the United States has no business spying on me, but he knows what is happening.

“When it comes to spying, the French know exactly what the US can do and the US knows what the French can do and they probably both expect the other side do everything they can,” says Dungan.

Story continues below…

SEE ALSO: Ten transatlantic scraps between France and the US

 

 

Ben McPartland (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
2,755
jobs available