U.S. spy fiasco hits France, Mexico

AFP-JIJI

France and Mexico have angrily demanded prompt explanations from the United States following “shocking” new spying allegations leaked by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The reports published in French daily Le Monde and German weekly Der Spiegel reveal that the U.S. National Security Agency secretly monitored tens of millions of phone calls in France and hacked into former Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s email account.

They come on top of revelations also leaked by Snowden and published in June that the U.S. had a vast, secret program called PRISM to monitor Internet users.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, on a trip to Luxembourg for a meeting with his EU counterparts, said the U.S. ambassador had “immediately” been summoned to his ministry for a meeting Monday morning.

Meanwhile, the country’s interior minister, Manuel Valls, described the revelations as “shocking,” in an interview with Europe 1 radio.

The spy agency monitored 70.3 million phone calls in France over a 30-day period between Dec. 10 and Jan. 8 this year, Le Monde reported in its online version, citing documents from Snowden.

According to the paper, the NSA automatically picked up communications from certain phone numbers in France and recorded certain text messages under a program code-named “US-985D.”

Le Monde said the documents gave grounds to believe that the NSA targeted not only people suspected of being involved in terrorism but also high-profile individuals from the world of business and politics. Valls said France would demand “precise explanations by U.S. authorities in the coming hours.”

The Le Monde article followed revelations by Der Spiegel — also based on documents provided by Snowden — that U.S. agents had hacked into the Mexican presidency’s network, gaining access to Calderon’s account.