Europe demands explanation on snooping

July 01, 2013 06:48 pm | Updated November 16, 2021 09:01 pm IST - Paris

French President Francois Hollande speaks during of the Qatari-Franch Business Forum in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, June 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)

French President Francois Hollande speaks during of the Qatari-Franch Business Forum in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, June 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)

Fresh revelations by The Guardian alleging that the U.S. systematically spied upon several “target” countries in Europe and around the world has further fuelled anger in France, Germany, Greece and Italy.

French President Francois Hollande called on Washington to “immediately” cease espionage activities targeting France. “France cannot accept such behaviour between allies and partners. There are enough elements for us to demand explanations,” Mr. Hollande said during a trip to Brittany, northwestern France. Mr. Hollande thus became the first Head of State to speak out openly about the spying allegations.

Mr. Hollande became the first European Head of State to directly attack the proposed Europe-USA free trade agreement saying “There can be negotiations, transactions in all fields, only once France has obtained these guarantees — and this goes for the rest of Europe and other partners of the United States,” Mr. Hollande said.

Earlier French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called on his American counterpart Secretary of State John Kerry to make a stopover in Europe on his way back from the West Asia. “Mr. Kerry should contact us immediately so we can have the required information and explanations,” Mr. Fabius said.

France is particularly outraged because press reports say the U.S. spied on the French mission in Washington and at the United Nations. The former was baptised Wabash while snooping operations against the French U.N. mission were called “Blackfoot”. The operation against the Italians and the snooping operations against the Italians went under the code name “Bruneau”.

The Guardian’s revelations that France, Italy or Greece were described as “targets to be attacked” by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) in order to understand the dissensions within Europe has literally made the pot boil over. Germany and the European Union (EU) on Monday formally demanded explanation from Washington. “Between partners, we don’t spy on each other,” exclaimed Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for Justice. “There can be no negotiations on an enlarged transatlantic market if there is the slightest doubt that our partners are listening to what goes on in the offices of our negotiators,” Ms. Reding said. The French Green party has called for giving asylum to Edward Snowden in Europe.

As far as the U.S. is concerned, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) in a statement said that the USA would respond “appropriately” through diplomatic channels. In a communiqué, the agency said it did not publicly comment on alleged intelligence activity, adding that it had clarified the USA engaged in information gathering outside its frontiers like any other foreign nation.

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