France calls in US ambassador to protest at spying allegations
Report in French media suggests US conducted large-scale spying on French citizens
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said he had immediately summoned the US ambassador following the spying allegations. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/Irish Times
The allegations that the agency was collecting tens of thousands of French telephone records risked turning into a diplomatic row just as US secretary of state John Kerry arrived in Paris for the start of a European tour over Syria.
“I have immediately summoned the U.S. ambassador and he will be received this morning at the Quai d’Orsay (the French foreign ministry),” French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told reporters on the sidelines of an EU meeting in Luxembourg.
Earlier, France’s interior minister, Manuel Valls, said Le Monde’s revelations that 70.3 million pieces of French telephone data were recorded by the NSA between December 10th, 2012 and January 8th, 2013 were “shocking.”
“If an allied country spies on France or spies on other European countries, that’s totally unacceptable,” Mr Valls told Europe 1 radio.
US ambassador to France Charles Rivkin declined immediate comment on reports that he had been called in by the French foreign ministry but stressed that US-French ties were close.
“This relationship on a military, intelligence, special forces ... level is the best it’s been in a generation,” Mr Rivkin said as Mr Kerry arrived in Paris.
In July, Paris prosecutors opened a preliminary inquiries into the NSA’s programme, known as Prism, after Germany’s Der Spiegel and Britain’s The Guardian revealed wide-scale spying by the agency leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
“We were warned in June (about the programme) and we reacted strongly but obviously we need to go further,” Mr Fabius said. “We must quickly assure that these practices aren’t repeated.”
The NSA’s targets appeared to be individuals suspected of links to terrorism, as well as those tied to French business or politics, Le Monde wrote.