Spying on French presidents: What the Wikileaks docs reveal

Here's a closer look at some of the key details revealed by the Wikileaks documents that showed the US had wiretapped three French presidents.

Spying on French presidents: What the Wikileaks docs reveal
Anti-spying protesters take to the streets against the NSA program. Photo: AFP

Documents published online by WikiLeaks show that the US wiretapped three French presidents, including current leader Francois Hollande.

Here are some key points revealed by the documents, which can be found at

Francois Hollande

A note dated May 22, 2012 and classified as “Top Secret” shows that French president Francois Hollande had “approved holding secret meetings in Paris to discuss the eurozone crisis, particularly the consequences of a Greek exit from the eurozone”.

Hollande also arranged in a meeting with then-French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on May 18, just days after he had taken office, to hold secret meetings with Germany's opposition Social Democratic Party. Ayrault warned the president to keep the meetings secret to avoid “diplomatic problems”, with the cable explaining he meant “what could happen if German Chancellor Angela Merkel finds out that Hollande is going behind her back to meet with the German opposition”.

The note said that after earlier talks with Merkel in Berlin, Hollande had complained that nothing of substance was achieved and that the Chancellor was fixated on Greece, “on which he claimed she had given up and was unwilling to budge”.

This, the note said, made Hollande “very worried” for Greece and the Greek people, who he said may react by voting for an extremist party.

Nicolas Sarkozy

A note titled “Sarkozy Sees Himself as Only One Who Can Resolve World Financial Crisis” and dated 2008 records how then-president Nicolas Sarkozy “considers it his responsibility to Europe and the world to step up to the plate and resolve the world financial crisis”.

Sarkozy further declared his belief he was “the only one” who could step into the breach, given France's EU presidency at the time, and the lack of US engagement in the crisis.

The note said that Sarkozy blamed US “mistakes” for many of the economic problems, but added he “believes that Washington is now heeding some of his advice”.

A note dated March 24, 2010 reveals that Sarkozy planned to express his frustration to US President Barack Obama over delays in a proposed bilateral intelligence cooperation agreement, with the main sticking point being “the US desire to continue spying on France”.

The note, recounting an exchange between France's ambassador to the US Pierre Vimont and Sarkozy's diplomatic adviser Jean-David Levitte, said Sarkozy planned to raise that along with a number of other sensitive topics at a meeting with Obama on March 31.

A third note, dated June 10, 2011, describes Sarkozy's determination on June 7 to go ahead with a bid to restart direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, “in spite of an apparent lack of interest on the part of some major players”.

The note said Sarkozy was wary about including the Middle East Quartet — the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia — in the process as they “might not bow to Paris's wishes”.

Sarkozy was considering appealing to his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev for a possible joint initiative without the US, the note said, as well as issuing an ultimatum to Obama regarding Palestinian statehood.

Jacques Chirac

A note dated from 2006 describes a conversation between the then-president and his foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy on the appointment of a UN envoy.

The note comments that “Chirac's detailed orders may be in response to the foreign minister's propensity, amply demonstrated in the past and the impetus behind a number of presidential reprimands, for making ill-timed or inaccurate remarks”.





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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.