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Monday, October 21, 2013

France summons US envoy over NSA spying report

Monday, October 21, 2013 4:28 PM
Source Alalam
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has summoned the US ambassador to protest allegations in Le Monde newspaper about large-scale spying on French citizens by the US National Security Agency (NSA).

"I have immediately summoned the US ambassador and he will be received this morning at the Quai d'Orsay (the French Foreign Ministry)," Fabius told reporters on the sidelines of an EU meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.

NSA secretly recorded millions of phone calls made in France, French daily "Le Monde" reported on Monday, citing documents leaked by former NSA intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who has taken temporary refuge in Russia.

The allegations risked turning into a diplomatic row just as US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris for the start of a European tour over Syria.
Earlier, France's interior minister, Manuel Valls, said Le Monde's revelations that 70.3 million pieces of French telephone data were recorded by the NSA between Dec 10, 2012 and Jan 8, 2013 were "shocking."

"If an allied country spies on France or spies on other European countries, that's totally unacceptable," Valls told.

US Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin declined immediate comment on reports that he had been called in by the French foreign ministry but stressed that US-French ties were close.

"This relationship on a military, intelligence, special forces ... level is the best it's been in a generation," Rivkin told.

In July, Paris prosecutors opened preliminary inquiries into the NSA's programme, known as Prism, after Germany's Der Spiegel and Britain's The Guardian revealed wide-scale spying by the agency leaked by Edward Snowden.

"We were warned in June (about the programme) and we reacted strongly but obviously we need to go further," Fabius said. "We must quickly assure that these practices aren't repeated."