25 Jun 2015

US no longer spying on France, says Obama

6:58 am on 25 June 2015

President Obama has told his French counterpart Francois Hollande the US is no longer spying on France.

French President Francois Hollande and US President Barack Obama at a Nato summit in  September 2014.

French President Francois Hollande and US President Barack Obama IN 2014. Photo: AFP

The American president spoke to Mr Hollande following reports on the Wikileaks website that the US National Security Agency (NSA) spied on successive French presidents.

The White House said after the two leaders' phone call "we are not targeting and will not target" Mr Hollande's communications.

Wikileaks reported that the NSA had intercepted communications from President Francois Hollande and former leaders Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac between 2006 and 2012.

The allegations prompted a backlash from the French government, with Mr Hollande saying he would "not tolerate" acts that threaten France's security.

He called two emergency meetings, the first with France's top security officials and another with leading legislators.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls urged the US to quickly repair "damage" to its relationship with France.

The US ambassador in France was also summoned to the foreign ministry in Paris to discuss the latest claims.

The NSA has previously been accused of spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on Brazilian and Mexican leaders.

A statement released by the French presidency after the phone call said Mr Obama had pledged to "finish with practices that have taken place in the past".

Wikileaks said the secret files it began publishing on Tuesday "derive from directly targeted NSA surveillance of the communications" of the three French presidents as well as French ministers and the ambassador to the US.

The Wikileaks files have now been published by France's Liberation newspaper and the Mediapart investigative website.

One of the files, dated 2012, is about Mr Hollande discussing Greece's possible exit from the eurozone. Another, from 2011, alleges Mr Sarkozy was determined to resume peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, possibly without US involvement.

A file dated 2010 suggests that French officials were aware that the US was spying on them and intended to complain about it.

It is unclear whether the material comes from data stolen by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the BBC says.

- BBC

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