Wikileaks Publishes Top-Secret NSA Briefs Proving the U.S. Spied on France

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Wikileaks has published five top secret documents that prove the United States National Security Agency (NSA) has been spying on French President Francois Hollande, and the past two presidents prior, Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac among other top government officials, as reported Tuesday.

Published documents from Wikileaks include excerpts of five intelligence briefings, containing descriptions on what information was intercepted, “taken from various editions of the National Security Agency’s Top Secret Global SIGINT Highlights executive briefings.” Wikileaks wording suggests the organization may have access to more intelligence briefs they chose not to publish, an unusual move for Wikileaks. However, the organization chose to include a list of redacted phone numbers of officials involved.

One brief published, dated March 24, 2014, includes confidential notes from a conversation that occurred between two top French officials:

Sensitive Issues on the Agenda When French, U.S. Presidents Meet Next Week in Washington (TS//SI//NF)

(TS//SI//NF) French President Sarkozy intends to raise a number of sensitive topics with the U.S. President when the two leaders meet in Washington on 31 March, according to an exchange last week between the French ambassador in Washington Pierre Vimont, and Sarkozy’s diplomatic advisor, Jean-David Levitte. Vimont conveyed that the French President will express his frustration that Washington has backed away from its proposed bilateral intelligence cooperation agreement and Sarkozy intends to continue to push for closure. As Vimont and Levitte understand it, the main sticking point is the U.S. desire to continue spying on France.

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The intelligence briefs, which were taken from an NSA report called “Global SIGINT Highlights,” gives some insight on how the NSA collects intelligence and stores it. The “Unconventional” label tagging the published briefs suggest the agency had to use other means, aside from standard phone interception, to eavesdrop on the call, suggesting the agency may have exploited tools belonging to the NSA’s Tailored Access Office. The NSA’s documentation even corresponds to a period during Sarkozy’s term in which his office was attacked by Flame malware, that was later to have infiltrated President Sarkozy’s office in May 2012.

Wikileaks media partners, Libération and Mediapart, did not give any information on the source or why the briefs were leaked.

“The French government must react as it sees fit,” said Claude Guéant, President Sarkozy’s interior minister. “As a minimum it requires an explanation at the very highest level, an absolute commitment to put an end to these practices.”

Mediareport said that:

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Presidential sources did, however, note that ahead of the meeting between François Hollande and American president Barack Obama in Washington on February 11th, 2014, and then during the meeting itself there was an “undertaking to no longer carry out indiscriminate eavesdropping of the state services of an allied country.”

“As a general matter, we do not conduct any foreign intelligence surveillance activities unless there is a specific and validated national security purpose,” Ned Price told Ars, a spokesman with the National Security Council when questioned on the recent document leak. “This applies to ordinary citizens and world leaders alike.”

[Photo via U.S. Army Europe Images/Flickr [CC BY 2.0]]

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Brandon Stosh is the founder and CEO of www.freedomhacker.net. Stosh is a cyber security researcher and professional consultant who strives to provide reliable news on cyber-security based topics.

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