French President François Hollande said on Wednesday that it is “unacceptable” for the U.S. to have intercepted his and two other French presidents’ communications.
The French government has reportedly summoned U.S. Ambassador Jane Hartley to the foreign minister’s office, and a top French intelligence official is also reportedly planning to visit the U.S. in coming days to discuss the revelations.
"France will not tolerate actions that threaten its security and the protection of its interests,” Hollande’s office said in a statement on Wednesday.
“These are unacceptable facts that have already been the subject of clarification between the U.S. and France,” he added. “Commitments were made by the U.S. authorities. They need to be recalled and strictly respected.”
On Tuesday, WikiLeaks released documents showing that the National Security Agency had secretly gathered communications involving Hollande as well as former French Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac. The top-secret intercepted messages included details about secret meetings on the Greek financial crisis and internal plans for peace in the Middle East, among other issues.
“We are not targeting and will not target the communications of President Hollande,” National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement late on Tuesday.
“Indeed, as we have said previously, we do not conduct any foreign intelligence surveillance activities unless there is a specific and validated national security purpose,” he added. “This applies to ordinary citizens and world leaders alike.”
The new statement notably does not deny that the U.S. had ever spied on French leaders in the past.
All of the documents released by WikiLeaks occurred before President Obama limited the NSA from spying on friendly foreign leaders last year.
That move came in reaction to outrage from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose personal cellphone had reportedly been the target of NSA spying. While the diplomatic headache caused by that revelation appears to have largely blown over in the last year and a half, the revelation that French presidents were intelligence targets threatens to ignite new tensions over NSA spying.