Update as of 5:00 a.m. EDT: France “will not tolerate” actions that threaten its security and “the protection of its interests,” the French president’s office said, in a statement released Wednesday, referring to reports of NSA spying on at least three French presidents between 2006 and 2012.
Documents revealing the spying activity were released Tuesday by online whistleblower WikiLeaks under the title “Espionnage Elysee.”
The French government’s statement came after an emergency meeting of security chiefs in Paris. The French foreign ministry has also summoned the U.S. ambassador to discuss the matter, Agence France-Presse reported.
The White House on Tuesday refuted claims made by whistleblower website WikiLeaks that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on, among others, current French President Francois Hollande.
According to documents released by WikiLeaks, which it claimed were “top secret,” the U.S. not only eavesdropped on three successive French presidents between 2006 and 2012, it also intercepted communications between several French cabinet ministers and the French ambassador to the United States.
“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, spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, reportedly said Tuesday. “We are not targeting and will not target the communications of President Hollande.”
Price, however, refused to confirm or deny whether the allegations of spying on Jacques Chirac and his successor Nicolas Sarkozy were true, stating that he would not comment on “specific intelligence allegations.”
In a statement accompanying the documents, WikiLeaks, which has in the past accused the NSA of spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said that the secret files “derive from directly targeted NSA surveillance of the communications” of the three French presidents.
The documents, collectively titled “Espionnage Elysée,” include summaries of conversations between French government officials on the global financial crisis, the Greek debt crisis and, among other things, intercepts of communications between Pierre Vimont -- a former French ambassador to the U.S. -- and former president Nicholas Sarkozy’s diplomatic adviser Jean-David Levitte discussing reports of the U.S. spying on France.
The most recent document released by WikiLeaks is dated May 22, 2012, and reveals that Hollande “approved holding secret meetings in Paris to discuss the eurozone crisis, particularly the consequences of a Greek exit from the eurozone.”
Hollande has reportedly called an emergency meeting of his country’s defense council to discuss the reports on Wednesday.
“The French people have a right to know that their elected government is subject to hostile surveillance from a supposed ally,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, said, in a press release. “French readers can expect more timely and important revelations in the near future.”