Today, 23 June 2015, WikiLeaks began publishing “Espionnage Élysée”, a collection of TOP SECRET intelligence reports and technical documents from the US National Security Agency (NSA) concerning targeting and signals intelligence intercepts of the communications of high-level officials from successive French governments over the last ten years.
The top secret documents derive from directly targeted NSA surveillance of the communications of French Presidents Francois Hollande (2012–present), Nicolas Sarkozy (2007–2012), and Jacques Chirac (1995–2007), as well as French cabinet ministers and the French Ambassador to the United States. The documents also contain the “selectors” from the target list, detailing the cell phone numbers of numerous officials in the Elysee up to and including the direct cell phone of the President.
Prominent within the top secret cache of documents are intelligence summaries of conversations between French government officials concerning some of the most pressing issues facing France and the international community, including the global financial crisis, the Greek debt crisis, the leadership and future of the European Union, the relationship between the Hollande administration and the German government of Angela Merkel, French efforts to determine the make-up of the executive staff of the United Nations, French involvement in the conflict in Palestine and a dispute between the French and US governments over US spying on France. (Selected extracts below)
A founding member state of the European Union and one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, France is formally a close ally of the United States, and plays a key role in a number of US-associated international institutions, including the Group of 7 (G7), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The revelation of the extent of US spying against French leaders and diplomats echoes a previous disclosure in the German press concerning US spying on the communications of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German officials. That disclosure provoked a political scandal in Germany, eventuating in an official inquiry into German intelligence co-operation with the United States, which is still ongoing.
While the German disclosures focused on the isolated fact that senior officials were targeted by US intelligence, WikiLeaks’ publication today provides much greater insight into US spying on its allies, including the actual content of intelligence products deriving from the intercepts, showing how the US spies on the phone calls of French leaders and ministers for political, economic and diplomatic intelligence.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said: “The French people have a right to know that their elected government is subject to hostile surveillance from a supposed ally. We are proud of our work with leading French publishers Liberation and Mediapart to bring this story to light. French readers can expect more timely and important revelations in the near future.”
NSA high priority targets for France
This is an NSA database extract of significant French political and economic telephone interception targets, including the office of the President.
Selected extracts of “top” NSA intercepts of French leadership and chief officials, taken from various editions of the National Security Agency’s Top Secret Global SIGINT Highlights executive briefings.
NSA Eavesdrops as Hollande Tries End Run Around Merkel on Greek Eurozone Exit
|Date||22 May 2012|
|WikiLeaks Synopsis |
Intercepted communication reveals that Francois Hollande has approved holding a secret meeting with French officials as well as German opposition (without the knowledge of Merkel) to discuss the euro-zone crisis.
French President Approves Secret Eurozone Consultations, Meeting With German Opposition (TS//SI-G//OC/NF)
(TS//SI-G//OC/NF) French President Francois Hollande has approved holding secret meetings in Paris to discuss the eurozone crisis, particularly the consequences of a Greek exit from the eurozone. On 18 May, Hollande directed Prime Minister (PM) Jean-Marc Ayrault to set up a meeting at the Office of the President (the Elysee) for the following week. Hollande, Ayrault, and “appropriate ministers” would attend, and special emphasis would be given to consequences for the French economy in general and for French banks in particular. Hollande stressed that the meeting would be secret. (COMMENT: The French president seems worried that if word were to get out that Paris is seriously considering the possibility of a Greek exit, it would deepen the crisis.) In addition, secret meetings are to be held in Paris between French officlans and members of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). Hollande assured the PM that hosting the meeting at the Elysee was “doable,” although Ayrault warned the president to keep the event a secret so as to avoid diplomatic problems. (COMMENT: By “diplomatic problems,” Ayrault is referring to what could happen if German Chancellor Angela Merkel finds out that Hollande is going behind her back to meet with the German opposition.) Earlier reporting reveals that following talks last week in Berlin with Merkel, Hollande complained that nothing of substance was achieved; it was purely for show. Hollande had found the chancellor fixated on the Fiscal Pact and above all on Greece, on which he claimed she had given up and was unwilling to budge. This made Hollande very worried for Greece and the Greek people, who might react by voting for an extremist party. After meeting Merkel, the French president contacted SPD Chairman Sigmair Gabriel and invited him to Paris so that they could talk.
Foreign Satellite, Unconventional
French, German governmental
Z-G/OO/503643-12, 211549Z; Z-G/OO/503541-12, 161711Z
US Intercepts of France Complaining About US Intercepts of France
|Date||24 March 2010|
|WikiLeaks Synopsis |
Intercepted communication between French Ambassador in Washington Pierre Vimont and Sarkozy’s diplomatic advisor Jean-David Levitte, reveals potential topics of discussion for a meeting between Sarkozy and U.S. President, particularly Sarkozy’s frustration regarding Washington step back on a bilateral intelligence cooperation agreement and the U.S. desire to continue spying on France.
Sensitive Issues on the Agenda When French, U.S. Presidents Meet Next Week in Washington (TS//SI//NF)
(TS//SI//NF) French President Sarkozy intends to raise a number of sensitive topics with the U.S. President when the two leaders meet in Washington on 31 March, according to an exchange last week between the French ambassador in Washington Pierre Vimont, and Sarkozy’s diplomatic advisor, Jean-David Levitte. Vimont conveyed that the French President will express his frustration that Washington has backed away from its proposed bilateral intelligence cooperation agreement and Sarkozy intends to continue to push for closure. As Vimont and Levitte understand it, the main sticking point is the U.S. desire to continue spying on France. On the topic of Afghanistan, Levitte noted that Sarkozy is ready to authorize more military trainers but wants clarification on how many are needed, given the conflicting figures from U.S. sources. Another proposed topic was efforts by the European Aeronautic, Defense, and Space Corporation (EADS) to win a tanker aircraft contract with the U.S. military. Vimont revealed cryptically that the deal is moving forward but did not provide any details. Levitte had not expected to put the labeling dispute with Pernod Ricard (the world’s second largest spirits group) on the agenda, but Sarkozy had just spoken to the company’s chairman who had asked the president to intercede on his behalf. (COMMENT: Patrick Ricard, chairman of the Pernod Ricard board of directors, is said to be one of Sarkozy’s wealthy backers.) Vimont characterized the issue as a very political matter in the U.S., and suggested that a direct appeal to the White House might be useful. While Sarkozy intends to broach the issue with the U.S. President, Levitte will talk to the U.S. President’s Economic Adviser and Deputy National Security Adviser. Finally, Levitte expected the two leaders to discuss other pressing subjects including Iran, the Middle East Peace Process, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Sahel, Russia, China, Turkey, climate change, and the financial situation of several European countries; however, he provided no details on those topics.
US Spying On Chirac Discussing UN Appointments
|Classification||TOP SECRET//COMINT-GAMMA//ORCON/REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL|
|WikiLeaks Synopsis |
Intercepted communication between French President Jacques Chirac and French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals that Chirac gave specific instructions to approach UNSYG Ban Ki-Moon and ask the appointment of Terje Roed-Larsen as Deputy UNSYG or another position of equal responsibility.
(TS//SI-G//OC) French President Presses for Selection of Roed-Larsen as Deputy UNSYG
(TS//SI-G//OC/REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL) French President Jacques Chirac told Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy on 23 December to work to ensure that current UN Special Envoy for the Implementation of UNSC Resolution 1559 Terje Roed-Larsen is selected as Deputy UNSYG or at least offered a position of similar responsibility. Chirac spelled out in deliberate fashion exactly how he wanted Douste-Blazy to proceed, instructing him to approach new UNSYG Ban Ki-moon and report back on Ban’s sentiments regarding the deputy post. (COMMENT: Chirac’s detailed orders may be in response to the foreign minister’s propensity, amply demonstrated in the past and the impetus behind a number of presidential reprimands, for making ill-timed or inaccurate remarks.) The President was keen on Roed-Larsen’s selection for several reasons, including his belief that the situation in the Middle East requires a skilled hand with experience in the region and the realization that–for once–France, Russia, and the U.S. all support the same man. Other considerations were that Ban intends to keep Frenchman Jean-Marie Guehenno on as head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, which is to be divided into two parts, with the newer organization handling logistics. That planned division, however, has drawn fire from Douste-Blazy, who thinks that it would be a catastrophe.
French leadership, UN diplomatic
US Spying on Sarkozy Talking Tough on Israel-Palestine
|Date||10 June 2011|
|WikiLeaks Synopsis |
Intercepted communication reveals that Sarkozy was determined to resume peace talks between Israel and Palestine, possibly without the involvement of the U.S.
Sarkozy Sees Himself as Only One Who Can Resolve World Financial Crisis (TS//SI-G//OC)
(TS//SI-G//OC/REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL) French President Nicolas Sarkozy considers it his responsibility to Europe and the world to step up to the plate and resolve the world financial crisis. He further declared that he is the only one, given France’s EU Presidency, who can step into the breach at this time. The President blamed many of the current economic problems on mistakes made by the U.S. Government, but believes that Washington is now heeding some of his advice. In his view, this is the first time that the U.S. has not taken the lead in managing a global crisis and France will now take the helm. Sarkozy is determined that the mid-November financial summit, which he proposed, will bring drastic change to the world financial system. Finally, the French President was pleased by some progress made within the EU to ease the crisis and by his excellent working relationship with the British and Spanish prime ministers.