In 30 Days, NSA Grabbed 70M French Phone Records

Furious France summons US ambassador for explanation of latest report

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 21, 2013 7:24 AM CDT

(Newser) Brazil and Mexico have some company: The NSA spied on France, too, according to a new report in Le Monde co-authored by Glenn Greenwald, and let's just say France isn't too happy about it. The report reveals that the NSA copied French text messages and recorded certain calls; a staggering 70.3 million phone records were intercepted between Dec. 10, 2012, and Jan. 8, 2013. In response, France today summoned the US ambassador to express its displeasure with the news and demand an explanation, the AP reports.

France's interior minister called the new report "shocking," Reuters reports. "If an allied country spies on France or spies on other European countries, that's totally unacceptable," he told Europe 1 radio. Some of the NSA's targets had suspected terrorism ties, but others were apparently linked to French business or politics. CNN shares this explanation of the process via Le Monde: When a flagged telephone number is used in France, "it activates a signal which automatically triggers the recording of the call. Apparently this surveillance system also picks up SMS (text) messages and their content using key words." And how's this for uncomfortable timing: Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris today for a previously scheduled meeting. He's expected to meet with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius tomorrow.

I have immediately summoned the US ambassador and he will be received this morning at the Quai d'Orsay (the French Foreign Ministry), French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.
"I have immediately summoned the US ambassador and he will be received this morning at the Quai d'Orsay (the French Foreign Ministry)," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.   (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
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