WikiLeaks says NSA spied on French business
WikiLeaks has released documents that it says show that the U.S. National Security Agency eavesdropped on France's top finance officials and high-stakes French export bids over a decade in what the group called targeted economic espionage.
France and the U.S. didn't immediately respond to the release in French publications Mediapart and Liberation on Monday night. The material couldn't be immediately verified, but WikiLeaks has a record of releasing U.S. government documents.
Last week, the group revealed that the NSA spied on the last three French presidents, angering and embarrassing the French government, which summoned the U.S. ambassador for explanation.
The new reports say NSA intercepts between 2004 and 2012 show the agency eavesdropped on two finance ministers and three other senior officials. Other documents show that from 2002-2012, the NSA eavesdropped on all French export bids worth more than $200 million, from oil and gas to telecommunications and biotechnology.
U.S. officials have acknowledged that they collect economic information as part of standard intelligence gathering, but it has been the longstanding U.S. position that the government doesn't conduct economic espionage, which it defines as stealing economic information for the benefit of American companies. It says the French and most other countries do conduct such espionage.
The new reports say that the NSA shared some of the information with U.S. intelligence allies in the so-called Five Eyes program—the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
It says the spying targeted information about the French budget, trade policy and French companies' role in the oil-for-food program in Iraq in the 1990s.
The finance ministers targeted were Francois Baroin, who served under then-President Nicolas Sarkozy, and Pierre Moscovici—who is now EU finance commissioner, playing a key role in talks on Greece's future in the eurozone.
After last week's revelations, President Barack Obama promised that the U.S. was abiding by a commitment that he made in 2013 not to spy on the French president after Edward Snowden disclosed the extent of NSA surveillance powers.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called for an intelligence "code of conduct" between allies.
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