Spying is “unacceptable between friends and allies” president Hollande tells Obama
French president François Hollande and US president Barack Obama have spoken out following French newspaper Le Monde’s reports of alleged mass-scale US spying on French citizens on Monday.
The White House commented: “The president and President Hollande discussed recent disclosures in the press – some of which have distorted our activities and some of which raise legitimate questions for our friends and allies about how these capabilities are employed.”
The focus of the US National Security Agency (NSA) appeared to be on individuals who were suspected to have an involvement in terrorism. However, the French paper also reported that persons connected with business and politics were similarly targeted.
The allegations were detailed, as Le Monde described the NSA to have recorded 70.3 million fragments of French telephone data between 10th December 2012 and 8th January 2013. Overall, that means a collection of tens of thousands of French telephone records.
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, contributing to the investigation and resolution of the issue, deemed the reports to be completely unacceptable. The imminent panic over the confidentiality of citizens triggered the immediate summoning of US ambassador Charles Rivkin.
It was disclosed that Rivkin promised Fabius’s chief of staff that concerns would be immediately delivered to Washington. He offered no further comments but was quick to stress the two countries’ alliance, saying: “This relationship, on a military, intelligence, special forces level is the best it’s been in a generation.”
However, Laurent Fabius clearly stressed anxieties to peripheral reporters following a meeting in Luxemburg with EU counterparts. He said: “We have extremely useful cooperation with the United States in the struggle against terrorism, but this cooperation does not justify everything.”
The phone call between the two presidents has left Obama emphasising that the US’ means of gathering intelligence is being revised. He also underlined and acknowledged the need for balance between legitimate security concerns and the concerns of privacy that every person has.
It’s speculated that the NSA’s surveillance scheme may well have tarnished the alliance between the two countries on issues of national security. The presidents only recently unified to pressure Syrian president Bashar al-Assad into quitting.
Other European allies of the United States have mixed feelings about speculations that the NSA has been practising its surveillance policy in foreign destinations across the world.
Fabius outlined that president Hollande will be raising the issue of citizens’ privacy and discussing ways to go about protecting its breach at an EU meeting to be held this week.