2013 10 21 NYT New Report of N.S.A. Spying Angers France – NYTimes.com


New Report of N.S.A. Spying Angers France

PARIS — The National Security Agency has carried out extensive electronic surveillance in France, a French newspaper reported Monday, drawing an angry condemnation from an important American ally.

The report, based on secret documents leaked by Edward J. Snowden, was published in Le Monde, the authoritative French newspaper, the day Secretary of State John Kerry arrived here for an official visit.

Adding to the previous disclosures about the agency’s wide surveillance net abroad, the article said the agency had recorded 70 million digital communications in a single month, from Dec. 10, 2012, to Jan. 8, 2013.

French officials called the spying “totally unacceptable” and demanded that it cease.

The Foreign Ministry summoned the American ambassador, Charles H. Rivkin, who met with ministry officials on Monday morning.

“These kinds of practices between partners are totally unacceptable and we must be assured that they are no longer being implemented,” Mr. Rivkin was told, according to a ministry spokesman, Alexandre Giorgini.

The interior minister, Manuel Valls, speaking on Europe 1 Radio, called the revelations “shocking” and said they “will require explanation.”

“If an allied country is spying on France, it’s totally unacceptable,” he said.

Previous revelations from the documents leaked by Mr. Snowden, a fugitive former N.S.A. contractor, had already pulled the veil off N.S.A. spying on other allies, including Germany, England, Brazil and Mexico. In June, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported that the agency had eavesdropped on European Union offices in Brussels and Washington.

Probably the most serious diplomatic breach was the revelation in September that the N.S.A. had intercepted the communications of the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff. Brazil termed the spying “an unacceptable violation of sovereignty.”

The newspaper report on Monday was co-written by Glenn Greenwald, an American journalist whose articles have conveyed most of the Snowden revelations published so far, and a Le Monde correspondent.

The report did not make entirely clear what exactly the N.S.A. had swept up but it appeared that the agency took a vacuum-cleaner approach, recording 70 million communications, the report said, including telephone calls and instant messages. It was not clear how many of those were listened to or read.

The article also noted that the interceptions were coded “Drtbox” and “Whitebox” with the vast majority falling into the former category. However, it was not clear what those categories implied, nor why the report was limited to a single month.

Le Monde went on to say that the documents indicated that in addition to tracking communications between people suspected of having links to terrorism, the N.S.A. surveillance program may have targeted communications involving prominent figures in the worlds of business, politics or the French administration.

Last summer, President François Hollande criticized the American program, saying that France “could not accept this kind of behavior between partners and allies.”

However since then it became clear that France’s espionage agency, the General Directorate for External Security, also carried out extensive data collection on French citizens without clear legal authority, suggesting that although the technology used by the United States may be more sophisticated, the use of electronic eavesdropping as an anti-terrorism and anti-crime tool is broadly practiced.

Mr. Giorgini of the Foreign Ministry said that Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius would discuss the issue with Mr. Kerry when the two meet on Tuesday, although the main purpose of the meeting was to talk about the Middle East and Iran.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: October 21, 2013

An earlier version of this article misspelled the given name of the French interior minister. He is Manuel Valls, not Manual. And because of an editing error, it also misspelled the given name of the French foreign minister. He is Laurent Fabius, not Lurent.