NSA spied on French presidents

According to documents published on the Wikileaks website the NSA spied for years on French heads of state. President François Hollande has described this as "unacceptable", while the US has not denied the allegations. The US is alienating all its allies with its spying activities, some commentators warn. Others say France's cries of protest are hypocritical.

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Le Figaro (FR) /

Trust in Obama shattered

The NSA reportedly spied on three French presidents from 2006 to 2012. Relations between France and the US will suffer as a result of this latest spying scandal, the conservative daily Le Figaro predicts, regretting that Barack Obama has adopted the methods of his predecessors: "France's trust has been enduringly shaken. The protagonists of this lamentable affair are supposed to work as allies in dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions, Russia's manoeuvres and the barbaric conquests of the Islamic State. Already you can hear the sarcastic remarks of Ali Khamenei, Vladimir Putin and the 'caliph' al-Baghdadi: So the American presidents are wary of the French presidents who have so often made a show of their honesty! Despite his grand discourses, Barack Obama has made no changes to the methods of Bush and Cheney. That is a strategic error which will compromise America's standing, and an additional failure for this US president to whom the French had given their support."

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

France's flimsy protests

The protests from Paris against the NSA's spying activities may be justified but they are hypocritical in view of the circumstances, the centre-left daily El Periódico de Catalunya points out: "The US's greed for the data of friends and foes alike and its desire to control seems boundless. But just as boundless is the hypocrisy of those being spied on, it seems. … The German chancellor once complained, albeit meekly, and condemned the spying among friends as 'unacceptable'. The same words have now been used be the French president, although France and the US work closely together at monitoring the flow of information in Sub-Saharan Africa. … The irony in this latest spying scandal is that it has come to light precisely at the same time as Paris is passing a controversial law that will allow intelligence services to carry out surveillance operations without any judicial supervision."

Sme (SK) /

Spying is standard practice

France is just pretending to be angry about the NSA's syping, the liberal daily Sme writes, pointing out that such practices are standard among the Transatlantic partners: "The public indignation displayed by the French politicians has provoked nothing but smiles in Washington. Especially since it's become clear from the transcripts that Paris has known for at least five years that three presidents were spied on. ... Granted, Paris had no choice but to fake an attack of hysteria and call the espionage unacceptable. ...  But everyone engages in spying. In March Germany had to admit that it has bugged the French and other close partners for the past ten years. ... French politicians will walk around in a huff for another couple of days. But France too has its own skeletons in its closet, as the NSA most certainly knows."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Didn't need the NSA to know that

The revelations about surveillance operations show how ineffective they are, writes the liberal-conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung: "Judging by all we have learned so far the advantages of these operations are in negative proportion to their cost - particularly in terms of damage to image and the mistrust that such activities provoke in the allied countries. The informational value of the recently unveiled NSA 'highlights' is extremely modest. Is anyone really surprised that Hollande initiated talks about the euro crisis straight after he was elected? And why did an NSA agent write up a dispatch on the fact that Hollande wanted to meet up with leading German Social Democrats if the same thing could be read in the newspapers? The unintentional irony peaks in an NSA analysis of 2008 titled 'Sarkozy thinks he is the only one who can overcome the global financial crisis'. Anyone observing the French head of state back then would have had to draw the same conclusion - without any phone-hacking."