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.
The revelations that the United States has been tapping the phones of presidents and others senior figures in the French state have provoked a major controversy. Politicians from all parties queued up on Wednesday morning to denounce the spying, revealed in leaked documents obtained by WikiLeaks and published by Mediapart and Libération. President François Hollande, himself revealed to be the target of phone taps in 2012, called a meeting of the government’s defence committee and met a delegation of 20 Parliamentarians at lunchtime to discuss the spying crisis. The Elysée meanwhile issued a statement describing the reported spying as “unacceptable”. But the spying will have come as no great surprise to the authorities in Paris who have known about or suspected such espionage for years. But France has never previously made a major public fuss about the issue for the simple reason that it, too, is part of a vast network involving exchanges of information between intelligence services around the world. And because it, too, cheerfully snoops on its friends. Moreover, the revelations came on the eve of the final vote on the government’s new and highly-controversial snooping legislation. Lénaïg Bredoux and Mathieu Magnaudeix report.