We were warned in June about Prism and reacted strongly, says French Foreign Minister Laurant Fabius
Paris has suddenly decided to sit up and take formal notice of spying on its national interests by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).
Foreign Minister Laurant Fabius on Monday demanded to see U.S. Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin and asked for an explanation.
Ever since Edward Snowden disclosed in June that the NSA had been spying not just on America’s enemies but its closest allies as well, several countries have lodged formal complaints with Washington only to receive bland assurances that the allegations of spying would be looked into and “an adequate answer given”.
France made a few noises but protests were extremely muted after it was revealed that France’s agency for internal security carried out widespread spying of its own people.
Brazil’s President Dilma Roussef cancelled her meetings with President Obama while Germany’s Angela Merkel let the U.S. know that their actions were considered “unfriendly”.
Comparatively, the French response remained mild.
However, since the daily Le Monde disclosed on Sunday that the NSA was engaged in spying on French citizens, top French industries and government bigwigs, Paris appears to have woken up with a start. Based on the same Snowden reports revealed earlier, Le Monde reported that the U.S. monitored over 70 million phone calls, e-mails and internet traffic over 30 days and that the spying included industrial espionage and listening-in to top level government conversations.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he was “shocked” that a friendly nation should be indulging in acts of such a nature while Foreign minister Laurant Fabius called the U.S. behaviour “unacceptable”.
The U.S. Ambassador to Paris Charles Rivkin said after his meeting with Mr. Fabius that he could not comment on what had been said but that transatlantic security ties had never been so good.
“We must quickly ensure that these practices aren’t repeated. We were warned in June about the Prism programme and we reacted strongly but obviously we need to go further,” Mr. Fabius said.