PARIS: France on Wednesday summoned the UN ambassador to explain allegations of what French President Francois Hollande branded “unacceptable” spying by the United States on French officials.
Hollande held an emergency meeting of ministers and army commanders after WikiLeaks revelations that the United States National Security Agency (NSA) had spied on the last three French presidents.
“France will not tolerate actions that threaten its security and the protection of its interests,” a statement from the president’s office said, adding it was not the first time that allegations of UN spying on French interests had surfaced.
“Commitments were made by the UN authorities. They need to be recalled and strictly respected.”
The French foreign ministry summoned the UN ambassador to discuss the matter, a French diplomatic source said.
The UN embassy declined to comment. A statement from the UN national security council said it was not targeting and will not target Hollande’s communications. The statement did not say whether spying had taken place in the past.
While Paris and Washington have good ties in general, UN security council veto-holder France fiercely maintains its independence on foreign policy and over the last two years there have been moments of friction and irritation on both sides.
Hollande was disappointed by President Barack Obama’s last-minute decision not to strike Syrian government positions in 2013. UN officials have frequently, in private, lambasted France’s tough stance in talks over Iran’s nuclear programme.
More documents to come
The revelations were first reported in French daily Liberation and on news website Mediapart, which said the NSA spied on presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande during the period of at least 2006 until May 2012.
According to the documents, Sarkozy considered restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks without UN involvement and Hollande feared a Greek euro zone exit back in 2012.
The latest revelations of spying among Western allies come after it emerged that the NSA had spied on Germany and Germany’s own BND intelligence agency had cooperated with the NSA to spy on officials and companies elsewhere in Europe.
WikiLeaks said on Twitter it would release more documents giving “further evidence as to UN’ true goals in its mass espionage of France.”
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