France has angrily summoned the U.S. ambassador for a meeting on Wednesday after reports emerged that the United States spied on French President François Hollande as well as his two immediate predecessors, despite the French being considered a close U.S. ally.
Transparency group WikiLeaks published U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) reports about the interception of secret communications of the last three French presidents.
France’s Defense Council said in a statement Wednesday that it would not tolerate “any action jeopardizing its security and the protection of its interests,” yet alluded to the fact it was already aware of the spying.
“These unacceptable facts already resulted in clarifications between France and the United States” in 2013 and 2014, the Council stated.
“Commitments were made by the American authorities,” the statement read. “They must be recalled and strictly respected.”
President Hollande had called a meeting of the council after reports appeared in the French press about the WikiLeaks disclosures.
French newspaper Libération and online news site Mediapart cited five NSA documents disclosed by WikiLeaks on Tuesday. The reports contained information pulled from intercepted communications of Presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy, Hollande and other senior French officials.
WikiLeaks said in a news release that the cache of “top secret” files includes “intelligence summaries of conversations between French government officials concerning some of the most pressing issues facing France and the international community.”
White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price on Tuesday said of the reports:
We are not targeting and will not target the communications of President Hollande. Indeed, as we have said previously, 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. We work closely with France on all matters of international concern, and the French are indispensable partners.
In addition to summoning the American ambassador, France’s intelligence coordinator will visit the United States to discuss the measures to eliminate spying between the two nations which are supposedly already in place.
The U.S. ambassador to France, Jane Hartley, will appear at the French Foreign Ministry at noon Eastern Time for what is sure to be an awkward exchange.