A diplomatic storm is brewing in France after WikiLeaks published evidence that the NSA has spied on at least three French presidents and their senior staff for the last nine years.
"The French people have a right to know that their elected government is subject to hostile surveillance from a supposed ally," said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. "French readers can expect more timely and important revelations in the near future."
The files detail conversations between French presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, including taps on their personal phone lines. Other key French officials were also bugged, the file suggest, including cabinet ministers and the French Ambassador to the US and the UN.
The US government has refused to comment on the leaked files, but the French cabinet is due to meet in emergency session on Wednesday to discuss the revelations. Based on the reaction of the German government to similar evidence the leaks could provoke the bigger upset in Franco-American relations since the formation of the Vichy government.
Very few files have been released by WikiLeaks so far, but those that are public are rich with irony. For example, the documents include a transcript of a conversation between French Ambassador in Washington Pierre Vimont and Sarkozy's diplomatic advisor Jean-David Levitte over the refusal of the US to stop spying on French government matters.
Other transcripts detail French involvement in trying to broker a deal between Israel and Palestinian, secret meetings between French and German officials to try and resolve the Greek economic crisis, and Sarkozy's response to the 2008 global financial crisis.
The provenance of the documents hasn't been revealed. It could be that they come from the Snowden archives, but there are persistent rumors that at least one former NSA staffer is also leaking files. ®