Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE INTERVIEW

Simon Serfaty, US foreign policy specialist

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'It's a War, Stupid!'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

French PM calls on ECB to go further to help economy

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'I love the Socialists'

Read more

WEB NEWS

Ukraine: Web users call for international assistance

Read more

WEB NEWS

France: Fighting political corruption with transparency

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

South Africa: Four men found guilty of shooting Rwandan exile

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - August 29th, 2014

Read more

  • Ukrainian forces retreat from Luhansk airport after clashes

    Read more

  • Iraqi forces free Armeli in biggest victory over IS militants since June

    Read more

  • Teddy Riner, France’s unstoppable judo champion

    Read more

  • Anti-government protesters storm Pakistan's state TV

    Read more

  • Putin calls for talks on 'statehood' for east Ukraine

    Read more

  • Poland marks 75 years since German invasion of WWII

    Read more

  • Israel appropriates large tracts of West Bank land

    Read more

  • Rescue efforts under way after French apartment block blast

    Read more

  • Web doc on French self-immolation protests takes top prize

    Read more

  • PSG trounce Saint-Etienne 5-0 with Ibrahimovic hat trick

    Read more

  • Tension rises in Hong Kong as Beijing rejects open elections

    Read more

  • French police stop 'teenage jihadist' from flying to Syria

    Read more

  • Kidnapped Yazidi women 'sold to Islamists' in Syria

    Read more

  • Confusion reigns after Lesotho 'coup'

    Read more

  • French PM vows to safeguard 35-hour work week

    Read more

  • Inside Novoazovsk – the pro-Russians' latest conquest

    Read more

France

France reacts to NSA spying: old revelations, new outrage

© afp

Text by Sébastian SEIBT

Latest update : 2013-10-22

French authorities have long known that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has been intercepting phone calls in France. So why have they reacted so forcefully to Monday’s revelations by a leading French newspaper?

France’s official reaction to a newspaper report on Monday that the US National Security Agency (NSA) spied on millions of French phone calls was swift and forceful.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius immediately summoned US Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin, while Interior Minister Manuel Valls said he was "shocked" that 70.3 million pieces of French telephone data were recorded by the NSA between December 10, 2012 and January 8, 2013.

White House: all nations spy

The White House brushed off France's protests over the latest NSA spying allegations, saying “all nations” conduct espionage operations.

Washington, in line with its normal procedure, declined to comment on the specific charges that outraged its ally.

But National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement that “we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations”.

She added, "As the president said in his speech at the UN General Assembly, we've begun to review the way that we gather intelligence, so that we properly balance the legitimate security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share."

The report – which was published in the leading French daily, “Le Monde” – threatens to turn into a diplomatic row as US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris for the start of a European tour on the Syrian crisis.

This is not the first time the US has been accused of spying on the French based on revelations by former US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden. In July, French prosecutors opened a preliminary inquiry into the NSA's programme, known as Prism, after Germany's “Der Spiegel” and Britain's “Guardian” broke the story.

But so far, the official French reaction to the revelations had been far more discreet than in neighbouring Germany or in South American countries such as Brazil, where President Dilma Rousseff called off a US state visit scheduled for October.

Alain Charret, a former French Air Force general and an expert in electronic warfare, discusses the latest developments with FRANCE 24.

FRANCE 24: Do you think France could ignore the fact that the NSA was spying on French nationals?
Alain Charret: That’s hard to envisage. In the past, there have been proven examples of NSA wiretapping that cost French companies lucrative contracts in Brazil and Saudi Arabia. Also this summer, French officials were told to use specially encrypted telephones to communicate certain information. This is all evidence that French authorities were aware that the NSA was listening to the communications of some French people.

FRANCE 24: But according to "Le Monde”, the NSA surveillance involves millions of French citizens, not just suspected terrorists, but business figures as well...
AC: French authorities may have been surprised by the size of the programme. But I believe this is only partly true. French authorities can’t ignore the fact that when intelligence agencies such as the NSA have such a massive net of interceptions, it inevitably captures the communications of ordinary citizens.

FRANCE 24: In this context, what’s your opinion on the reactions of Interior Minister Manuel Valls and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius ?
AC: This whole thing smacks of hypocrisy. Now that the existence of these intercepts has been made public, Manuel Valls and Laurent Fabius have been forced to react so as not to appear to condone such acts. But that does not mean they have just discovered these allegations. Perhaps their official reactions are exaggerated. The reactions could even backfire if the US decides to disclose what it knows about interception programmes used by the French intelligence services. Because we probably have a programme that resembles the one in the US, albeit on a smaller scale.

FRANCE 24: Laurent Fabius said the NSA had to stop these practices. What can France do?
A.C.: Nothing. When we say that the NSA is spying in France, we must realize that the agency is using satellites or underwater cables that are not on the French territory. The French authorities have no control over it. Paris may well protest against these acts. But then what? Even if the European Court of Human Rights condemned the NSA for violating privacy, it would not prevent the intelligence agency from continuing to listen to telephone conversations in France and elsewhere.

 

 

Date created : 2013-10-21

  • FRANCE

    France has vast electronic spying network, paper says

    Read more

  • USA - FRANCE

    France’s 'hypocritical' spying claims 'hide real scandal'

    Read more

  • USA

    NSA spied on France's foreign ministry, diplomats

    Read more

COMMENT(S)