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SPYING

Le Monde spy claims ‘not accurate’: US intel chief

The US intelligence chief said on Tuesday that articles published by the French newspaper Le Monde about America's espionage activities abroad "contain inaccurate and misleading information."

Le Monde spy claims 'not accurate': US intel chief
US spy chief James Clapper says claims in Le Monde newspaper about the NSA having spyied on millions of French phone calls was "inaccurate". Photo: Miguel Medina/Le Monde

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said the specific allegation that the National Security Agency collected more than 70 million "recordings of French citizens' telephone data" was false.

"While we are not going to discuss the details of our activities, we have repeatedly made it clear that the United States gathers intelligence of the type gathered by all nations," Clapper said in a statement

"The US collects intelligence to protect the nation, its interests, and its allies from, among other things, threats such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Citing documents from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, Le Monde reported Monday that the NSA taped 70.3 million phone calls in France over a 30-day period between December 10 and January 8, 2013.

The newspaper said the documents gave grounds to think the NSA targeted not only people suspected of being involved in terrorism, but also high-profile individuals from the world of business or politics.

It followed up on Tuesday by publishing details of US spying on French embassies around the world.

In a phone call with President Barack Obama, French leader Francois Hollande expressed "deep disapproval," saying according to his office that such practices were "unacceptable between friends and allies."

In Paris, meanwhile, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius used a breakfast meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry to demand a full explanation of the claims.

Clapper, in his short statement, sought to defuse the row by highlighting the close relationship between Washington and Paris.

"The United States values our longstanding friendship and alliance with France and we will continue to cooperate on security and intelligence matters going forward," he said.

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RUSSIA

Senior French officer held on suspicion of spying for Russia

A senior French military officer stationed at a NATO base has been indicted and jailed on suspicion of spying for Russia, local media and sources said on Sunday.

Senior French officer held on suspicion of spying for Russia
A change of command ceremony at the base of NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance Force in Sigonella, Italy. It is not known at which Italian Nato base the officer was stationed. Photo: Falk Plankenhorn
The French army officer was stationed abroad, a judicial source said confirming details from Europe 1 radio. According to the report, the soldier was stationed on a NATO base in Italy and is suspected of espionage on behalf of Russia.
   
The French government confirmed it was investigating a senior military officer over a “security breach”.
   
“What I can confirm is that a senior officer is facing legal proceedings for a security breach,” Defence Minister Florence Parly told Europe 1 radio, CNews and Les Echos newspaper. She gave no further details.
   
The judicial source said the officer had been indicted and jailed on charges involving “intelligence with a foreign power that undermines the fundamental interests of the nation”.
   
He is being prosecuted for “delivering information to a foreign power”, “collecting information harming the fundamental interests of the nation with a view to delivering them to a foreign power” and “compromising the secrecy of national defence”, the source said.
 
   
Europe 1 said the officer was a lieutenant-colonel stationed with NATO in Italy and had been placed under investigation on suspicion of spying for Russia.
   
He speaks Russian and was seen in Italy with a man identified as an agent of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence
service, the report said. It said he is suspected of having supplied sensitive documents to Russian intelligence.
   
The man was arrested by DGSI intelligence service as he was about to leave for Italy at the end of his holidays in France, and is being held at a prison in Paris, Europe 1 said.
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