NSA spied on last three French presidents, claims WikiLeaks

24 Jun 2015

Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande back in 2012, via Wikimedia Commons

WikiLeaks’ latest tranche of documents released into the wild contain quite a few gems, including the alleged NSA monitoring of the last three French presidents.

WikiLeaks revealed documents that it claims show direct surveillance of Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande from 2006 until May 2012. Throughout the operation, intelligence was gathered on a raft of highly-sensitive state discussions.

According to the documents, the global financial crisis, Greece’s debt issues, EU leadership plans, relations between France and Germany, the UN, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and even disputes between France and the US about the NSA were all monitored.There is a wonderful irony about the latter.

There is a wonderful irony about the latter.

“The French people have a right to know that their elected government is subject to hostile surveillance from a supposed ally,” said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is still currently housed in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

“French readers can expect more timely and important revelations in the near future.”

NSA surveillance: Damning report

The WikiLeaks documents released are quite comprehensive: one lists what appears to be the phone numbers of a swathe of French officials with ID names such as ‘FR PRES CELL’, ‘FR ELYSEE SEC GEN’ and ‘FR SEC STATE FOR EURO AFFS’.

One of the leaked documents is said to be an intercepted communication revealing Sarkozy’s 2011 plans to kickstart peace talks between Israel and Palestine.

In it, Sarkozy is considering appealing to the then president of Russia, Dmitriy Medvedev, for a possible joint initiative without the US, to get some talks going.

“Or, as another option, issuing an ultimatum to the US President regarding Palestinian statehood. The ultimatum would demand that Washington back France’s efforts to restart the peace process,” it reads.

Current French president Francois Hollande has released a statement saying his country “will not tolerate” acts that threaten its security, however, the US hasn’t admitted to anything just yet.

NSA surveillance: Nothing to see here

“We are not targeting and will not target the communications of President Hollande,” said Ned Price, a spokesperson for the National Security Council in the US.

Considering WikiLeaks’ documents end in May 2012, Price’s use of tense here could say a lot.

‘We do not conduct any foreign intelligence surveillance activities unless there is a specific and validated national security purpose. This applies to ordinary citizens and world leaders alike’ — Ned Price, US National Security Council spokesperson

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that the Five Eyes Alliance – the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – were privy to some of the US’ activities in spying on France.

NSA surveillance: The German model

Germany was recently engulfed in a similar storm when it transpired that officials there had also been spied on, with prominent politicians included in a list of ‘selectors’.

Weirdly, German officials subsequently came out and discussed the country’s reliance on the US’ spy agency, which was an incredibly revealing thing to admit.

“While the German disclosures focused on the isolated fact that senior officials were targeted by US intelligence, WikiLeaks’ publication today provides much greater insight into US spying on its allies,” WikiLeaks said.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic