France condemns 'unacceptable' spying on its presidents

Within hours of the revelations by Mediapart and Libération, in conjunction with WikiLeaks, about US spying on three presidents, the French political world united in its condemnation of the actions. Even the Elysée, which had initially declined to comment when the story first broke, joined in the criticism of American espionage which it described bluntly as “unacceptable”. Meanwhile the American ambassador in Paris was called in by the foreign ministry to make clear France's unhappiness with the acts of espionage on presidents and other senior figures, while François Hollande chaired a defence committee meeting and met a delegation of Parliamentarians at the Elysée. The French president also had a telephone conversation with Barack Obama in which the American president promised the US was no longer spying on French heads of state.  Lénaïg Bredoux, Mathieu Magnaudeix and Ellen Salvi report.

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A chorus of disapproval, from the French government to politicians of all colours, has greeted the news that at least three French presidents – François Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac - and other senior members of the establishment have been spied on by the Americans for years. The revelations from Mediapart and Libération, working in conjunction with WikiLeaks, produced strong condemnation from the Elysée on Wednesday even though it had initially refused to comment when the story first broke on Tuesday evening.