Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - Page 1 News List

France, Mexico demand answers over US spying

AFP, PARIS

France and Mexico have angrily demanded prompt explanations from the US after new spying allegations leaked by former US security contractor Edward Snowden.

The reports published in French daily Le Monde and German weekly Der Spiegel claim that the US National Security Agency (NSA) secretly monitored tens of millions of telephone calls in France and hacked into former Mexican president Felipe Calderon’s e-mail account.

They come on top of revelations already leaked by Snowden and published in June that the US had a vast, secret program called PRISM to monitor Internet users, which French prosecutors are already investigating.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he was “deeply shocked” by the revelations — the same word used by Mexican Minister of the Interior Manuel Valls — and demanded an explanation from US authorities.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, on a trip to Luxembourg for a meeting with his EU counterparts, said the US ambassador had been summoned to his ministry for a meeting yesterday morning.

It was the second time in less than four months that the US ambassador in Paris has been hauled in over revelations about US snooping.

The latest leak is also expected to prove embarrassing for US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was due in Paris yesterday for talks with Arab officials.

The NSA monitored 70.3 million phone calls in France over a 30-day period between Dec. 10 last year and Jan. 8, Le Monde reported in its online version, citing documents from Snowden.

According to the paper, the spy agency automatically picked up communications from certain phone numbers in France and recorded certain text messages under a program code-named “US-985D.”

Le Monde said the documents gave grounds to believe that the NSA targeted not only people suspected of being involved in terrorism, but also high-profile individuals in business and politics.

The French article followed revelations by Der Spiegel — also based on documents provided by Snowden — that US agents had hacked into the Mexican presidency’s network, gaining access to Calderon’s account.

According to the report, the NSA said this contained “diplomatic, economic and leadership communications which continue to provide insight into Mexico’s political system and internal stability.”

Mexican authorities said they would be seeking answers from US officials “as soon as possible” following the allegations.

However, France itself has also been accused of spying.

Le Monde reported over the summer that intelligence services intercepted all communications in the country, stocking telephone and computer data for years — accusations denied by the government.

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