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WikiLeaks says NSA spied on French finance ministers, business activity

Just a week after it was revealed the US had spied on three French presidents, new allegations of NSA espionage have emerged. WikiLeaks claims the NSA targeted French finance ministers and business activities.

The WikiLeaks website has said the United States National Security Agency (NSA) monitored the communications of two successive French finance ministers and gathered information on French economic and business activity.

In a

report

published jointly on Monday with newspaper "Liberation" and online outlet Mediapart, WikiLeaks said the targets of US spying were Francois Baroin and Pierre Moscovici, who between themselves helmed the French finance ministry from 2011 to 2014.

The new charges come just a week after it was revealed the NSA had

spied on three successive French presidents

from 2006 to 2012, sparking a

diplomatic row

between Paris and Washington.

In a 2002 document, the NSA is alleged to have asked intelligence services from Australia, the UK, Canada and New Zealand to gather information on French export contracts. The contracts, worth more than $200 million (180 million euros), covered diverse sectors including telecoms, nuclear energy, electricity, transport and health.

The documents did not name any specific French companies as targets of NSA spying.

An additional document obtained by WikiLeaks revealed a summary of a phone call between Moscovici - now Economics Commissioner for the EU - and a French Socialist senator, in which the two discussed the French economy and other financial matters.

Moscovici had said on June 24 that he would be shocked if he had been targeted by NSA surveillance and would demand an explanation from Washington in the event of any eavesdropping.

"Unacceptable between allies and friends," Moscovici tweeted.

Neither France's foreign ministry nor officials from the NSA immediately issued comment on the latest allegations.

Former United States intelligence officials have asserted in the past that the US does not engage in commercial spying, but that it collects economic information as part of routine intelligence gathering.

US President Barack Obama said after last week's spying revelations that his country was

adhering to a commitment

he made in 2013 not to spy on the French President - a commitment made after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the extent of NSA surveillance powers in 2013.

bw/jr (AP, Reuters)

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