• France's news in English
French accused US of cyber attack on Sarkozy
Did the US carry out a cyber attack against the Elysée Palace while Sarkozy was president? Photo: Jesco Denzel/AFP

French accused US of cyber attack on Sarkozy

AFP/The Local · 25 Oct 2013, 12:19

Published: 25 Oct 2013 12:19 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

France believed the United States attempted to hack into its president's communications network, a leaked US intelligence document published on Friday suggests.

US agents denied having anything to do with a May 2012 cyber attack on the Elysee Palace, the official residence of French presidents, and appeared to hint at the possible involvement of Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, a classified internal note from the US National Security Agency suggests.

Extracts from the document, the latest to emerge from the NSA via former contractor Edward Snowden, were published by Le Monde newspaper alongside an article jointly authored by Glenn Greenwald, the US journalist who has been principally responsible for a still-unravelling scandal over large-scale US snooping on individuals and political leaders all over the world.

The document is a briefing note prepared in April this year for NSA officials who were due to meet two senior figures from France's external intelligence agency, the DGSE. The French agents had travelled to Washington to demand explanations over their discovery in May 2012 of attempts to compromise the Elysee's communications systems.

The note says that the branch of the NSA which handles cyber attacks, Tailored Access Operations (TAO), had confirmed that it had not carried out the attack and says that most of its closest allies (Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand) had also denied involvement.

It goes on to note: "TAO intentionally did not ask either Mossad or (Israel's cyber intelligence unit) ISNU whether they were involved as France is not an approved target for joint discussions."

Le Monde interpreted this sentence as being an ironic reference to a strong likelihood that Mossad had been behind the attack.

The cyber attacks on the Elysee took place in the final weeks of Nicolas Sarkozy's term, between the two rounds of the presidential election which he ended up losing to Francois Hollande.

The attacks had been previously reported by French media, who have described them as an attempt to insert monitoring devices into the system but it remains unclear whether the presidential networks were compromised for any time.

There was no immediate response from the Elysee on Friday when asked for comment by AFP.

Sarkozy enjoyed warmer relations with the United States than any French president of recent times, to the extent that the media sometimes referred to him as "Sarko the American."

The revelations about the Elysee attacks followed damaging revelations that the US had tapped the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and spied on other allies.

Story continues below…

"Spying between friends, that's just not done," Merkel said Thursday at the -start of a summit of European Union leaders which has been overshadowed by the issue.

On a lighter note, the leaked document published by Le Monde on Friday underlines that NSA officials were anxious not to cause any further offence to their angry French counterparts.

Along with the technical details, the briefing note contains a phonetic guide to the pronounciation of the names of the French visitors.

They included DGSE technical director Bernard Barbier, who was to be addressed as bear-NAR bur-BYAY, and Patrick Pailloux, or pah-TREEK pie-YOO

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France poised to send bulldozers into Calais Jungle
Photo: AFP

As hundreds of migrants leave, the bulldozers are set to tear down the sprawling Calais shanty town on Tuesday.

UK to spend €40 million on securing Calais border
Photo: AFP

Britain spending big on security in Calais.

Millionaire Riviera hotel boss kidnapped in broad daylight
The city of Nice where the millionaire was bundled into a car infront of shocked onlookers. Photo: AFP

The millionaire head of a luxury hotel in the French Riviera resort of Cannes was kidnapped in front of shocked onlookers in the middle of the day on Monday.

Where exactly in France are Calais migrants being sent?
Photo: AFP

Here's where the 8,000 migrants in Calais are heading.

The annoying questions only a half French, half British person can answer
Photo: Beery/Flickr/AFP

Being half French, half British is means you get asked a lot of questions (and some of them can be a little annoying.)

Migrants bussed out of Calais Jungle to all corners of France
All photos: AFP

Hundreds of migrants are being bussed across France on Monday ahead of the demolition of the Jungle camp.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two
Rust and Bone. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

The newest French films you need to see before you die (or alternatively when you get some spare time).

Election Watch
Presidential hopeful reckons a pain au chocolat is 10 cents

So France happily takes the pastry out of him.

French ministry of defence officials die in plane crash
Screengrab: eddydeg/Twitter

The French Ministry of Defence officials were killed on Monday when a light aircraft went down on the island of Malta.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available