President Barack Obama assured French President Francois Hollande that the United States is not spying on him and will never target his communications.
Hollande requested a high-level emergency meeting with Obama on Wednesday after WikiLeaks reported that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) spied on him and two former French presidents. Hollande said he will “not tolerate” actions that threaten the security of France.
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Obama reaffirmed U.S. commitment to bilateral relations with France
In a telephone conversation with Hollande, Obama emphasized that the United States is “not targeting and will not target the communications of the French President.” Obama reiterated that his administration “abide by the commitment” it made with French counterparts in late 2013.
Obama also reaffirmed to Hollande the “unwavering commitment” of the United States to its bilateral relationship with France including their ongoing close cooperation in intelligence and security fields.
“We are committed to our productive and indispensable intelligence relationship with France, which allows us to make progress against shared threats, including international terrorism and proliferation, among others,” said Obama as he noted Hollande’s State Visit to Washington in February last year.
Ned Price, a spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council also reiterated that they are not targeting and will not target Hollande’s communications. He added, “We do not conduct any foreign intelligence surveillance activities unless there is a specific and validated national security purpose.”
French Intelligence to deepen cooperation with Washington
Following his conversation with Obama, the French Presidency issued a statement that Obama made a promise to Hollande that the United States would stop its practices in the past that were unacceptable among allies.
The French president also emphasized that their conversation focused on the “principles that should govern relations between allies and intelligence matters.” French intelligence officials plan to travel soon to Washington to deepen their cooperation.
WikiLeaks published Espionnage Elysee
On Tuesday, WikiLeaks started publishing top secret intelligence reports and technical documents under the heading “Espionnage Elysee.” The organization said the files came from NSA showing that the agency targeted and intercepted the communications of high-level French officials over the past ten years.
According to WikiLeaks, the NSA surveillance directly targeted the communications of French Presidents Francois Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Jacques Chirac. The NSA also targeted French cabinet ministers and ambassadors to the United States.
“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,” said Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks.