Washington has been leading a policy of economic espionage against France for more than a decade by intercepting communications of the Finance minister and all corporate contracts valued at more than $200 million, according to a new WikiLeaks report.
The revelations come in line with the ongoing publications of top secret documents from the US surveillance operations against France. The Monday publications consist of seven top secret documents which detail the American National Security Agency’s (NSA) economic espionage operations against Paris.
According to the WikiLeaks report, “NSA has been tasked with obtaining intelligence on all aspects of the French economy, from government policy, diplomacy, banking and participation in international bodies to infrastructural development, business practices and trade activities.” The documents allegedly show that Washington has started spying on the French economic sector as early as 2002. WikiLeaks said that some documents were authorized for sharing with NSA’s Anglophone partners – the so-called “Five Eyes” group – Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the UK.
The report strongly suggests that the UK has also benefited from the US economic espionage activities against France. “The United States not only uses the results of this spying itself, but swaps these intercepts with the United Kingdom. Do French citizens deserve to know that their country is being taken to the cleaners by the spies of supposedly allied countries? Mais oui!" said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a statement on Monday.
The documents published on Monday also reveal US spying on the conversations and communications the French Finance Minister, a French Senator, officials within the Treasury and Economic Policy Directorate, the French ambassador to the US, and officials with “direct responsibility for EU trade policy.”
The leaked NSA documents reveal internal French deliberation and policy on the World Trade Organization, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the G7 and the G20, the 2013 French budget, the decline of the automotive industry in France, and the involvement of French companies in the Oil for Food program in Iraq during the 1990s, the security expert said.
"The US has been conducting economic espionage against France for more than a decade. Not only has it spied on the French Finance Minister, it has ordered the interception of every French company contract or negotiation valued at more than $200 million,” said Assange. “That covers not only all of France's major companies, from BNP Paribas, AXA and Credit Agricole to Peugeot and Renault, Total and Orange, but it also affects the major French farming associations. $200 million is roughly 3,000 French jobs. Hundreds of such contracts are signed every year."
On June 23, WikiLeaks announced a plan to reveal a new collection of reports and documents on the NSA, concerning its alleged interception of communications within the French government over the last ten years. In the first tranche of leaked documents WikiLeaks claimed that NSA targeted high-level officials in Paris including French presidents Francois Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac, as well as cabinet ministers and the French Ambassador to the US.
Despite the tapping claims made by WikiLeaks, US President Barack Obama has assured his French counterpart Francois Hollande that Washington hasn’t been spying on Paris top officials. Hollande, on his part, released a statement saying that the spying is “unacceptable” and “France will not tolerate it.”
It’s not the first time that the NSA has been revealed to be spying on European leaders. According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden and published at the end of 2013 the US intelligence agency had previously targeted the phone of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The tapping scandal is believed to have created a rift between Washington and Berlin. The US collects the information through spy operations regardless of its sensitivity, as it has the ability to do so, Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst told.
“It’s hard to be surprised by any revelations of this kind,” he said. “The snooping is conducted because it’s possible to conduct it. In a new way we have a technical collection on steroids. The President of the US said that just because we can collect this material, doesn’t mean we should. The thing has a momentum, an inertia of its own. Since about ten years ago it has become possible to collect everything, and that’s precisely what we’re doing.”