US allies demand explanations about NSA surveillance

Following Le Monde’s Monday report on NSA’s systematic gathering of phone call data of French citizens and the recording of certain calls and text messages has made the French prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, call in the US ambassador in Paris and demand explanations.

According to The Guardian, he asked for “clear answers, justifying the reasons these practices were used and above all creating the conditions of transparency so these practices can be put to an end,” and US ambassador Charles Rivkin said he would relay the request to Washington.

The report hit the newsstands the day before US Secretary of State John Kerry met with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius for a previously scheduled talk. It was followed two days later by another revelation based on the documents exfiltrated by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: the NSA has spied on French diplomats both in Washington and at the UN in order to gain the upper hand in negotiations.

These latest news are still to be commented on by French officials.

In the meantime, the German federal government has issued a statement confirming that it has received information that the mobile phone of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel may be monitored by American intelligence services. They didn’t go into details on why they suspect this, but they shared that Merkel phoned US president Barack Obama to ask for explanations and for details about the scope of US surveillance in Germany, as well as for answers that the German government asked months ago.

“Among close friends and partners, as are the Federal Republic of Germany and the U.S. for decades, there should be no such monitoring of communications of a government. This would be a serious breach of trust. Such practices must be prevented immediately,” they commented.

White House spokesman Jay Carney commented on the news by saying that “the president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor.” What’s interesting to note is that the statement doesn’t contain the claim that the monitoring didn’t happen in the past.

All this comes in the wake of Der Spiegel revelations that the NSA has also been eavesdropping on the Mexican government for years, as well on the email communications of the former Mexican president.

According to the report, NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division “successfully exploited a key mail server in the Mexican Presidencia domain within the Mexican Presidential network to gain first-ever access to President Felipe Calderon’s public email account,” as well as the accounts of cabinet members.

The current Mexican president Peña Nieto, whose communications have also been monitored by the NSA while he was a presidential candidate, has also summoned the US ambassador to discuss the revelations and ask for explanations.

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