France wants EU summit to discuss America's spying

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 October, 2013, 9:59pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 October, 2013, 9:59pm


France is pushing to put allegations of spying by the United States against its European allies on the agenda of a summit of European leaders in Brussels today.

Describing the allegations in Le Monde of mass surveillance of French citizens by the US National Security Agency (NSA) as "serious" and "shocking", Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Europe needed to band together to negotiate with the US.

"President Francois Hollande has asked that the topic be added to the summit agenda. It is not only a French question but a European one," Ayrault told parliament. "We need to protect ourselves and must demand that new rules are put in place."

Washington's European allies have voiced mixed feelings about reports of extensive spying by the NSA that began to surface in June.

Le Monde said on Monday that the NSA recorded 70.3 million items of French telephone data between last December and January and collected tens of thousands of French phone records. The targets appeared to be individuals suspected of links to terrorism, but also people tied to French business or politics.

US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said the specific allegation that the NSA collected more than 70 million "recordings of French citizens' telephone data" was false.

"While we are not going to discuss the details of our activities, we have repeatedly made it clear that the United States gathers intelligence of the type gathered by all nations," Clapper said.

President Barack Obama has discussed the allegations with Hollande by phone. Obama acknowledged "legitimate questions for our friends and allies about how these capabilities are employed".

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse