Hollande: alleged US espionage 'unacceptable'
The WikiLeaks reports reflect "unacceptable facts that have already arisen between the US and France," French President Hollande said in a statement Wednesday.
"Commitments were made by the US authorities. They need to be recalled and strictly respected," Hollande said, following an emergency meeting with his top security officials.
Hollande had called the meeting in response to WikiLeaks publishing a series of documents, allegedly demonstrating American spying on the last three French presidents. The documents, published late Tuesday, allegedly contain conversations intercepted by the NSA.
France's foreign ministry summoned the US ambassador to discuss the disclosures, diplomatic sources told Agence-France Presse after Wednesday's meeting.
"France will not tolerate actions that threaten its security and the protection of its interests," Hollande said.
Meeting with Merkel "for show"
The WikiLeaks notes, classified as "Top Secret," seemingly reveal that the NSA eavesdropped on Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Hollande from 2006 to 2012.
According to one of the documents, Hollande "approved holding secret meetings in Paris to discuss the eurozone crisis, particularly the consequences of a Greek exit from the eurozone," as early as 2012, and only days after taking office. The secret meeting between Hollande, then-Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and selected ministers was to give "special emphasis" to effects on the French economy and French banks, the WikiLeaks excerpt says.
The same 2012 note also points out Hollande's complaints after talking about Greece with German chancellor Angela Merkel, claiming Hollande felt that "nothing of substance was achieved," that "it was purely for show" and that Merkel "had given up and was unwilling to budge" on Greece.
"This made Hollande very worried for Greece and the Greek people, who might react by voting for an extremist party," according to the excerpts.
In addition, the NSA note claims that the French president planned meetings in Paris with members of Germany's Social Democrats behind Merkel's back shortly after winning the election. The Social Democratic Party was Germany's main opposition party at the time. During the 2012 French campaign, Merkel had in turn faced criticism for appearing with incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy - who went on to lose - on the campaign trail.
The US had also eavesdropped on Hollande's predecessors Sarkozy, and Jacques Chirac before him, according to the WikiLeaks disclosures.
A note from 2010 says that Sarkozy intended "to raise a number of sensitive topics with the US President" expressing his frustration about the US refusing to sign an espionage pact. French officials believed that "the main sticking point is the US desire to continue spying on France," the alleged NSA report says.
Another document on Sarkozy describes his determination to restart the Middle East peace process "in spite of an apparent lack of interest on the part of some major players." Sarkozy also allegedly considered "appealing to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for a possible joint initiative without the United States."
On Wednesday, an aide to Hollande's predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy told The Associated Press that the former president considers these methods unacceptable, especially from an ally. In addition, Hollande's Socialist Party issued a statement saying that the reports suggest "a truly stupefying state paranoia."
dj/msh (AFP, Reuters, AP)