WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says time has come for France to take legal action against the United States while French people say they are not worried by new revelations on spying practices.
ECUADORIAN EMBASSY, LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM (JUNE 24, 2015) (TF1) – Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said on Wednesday (June 24) that time had come for France to take legal action against the U.S. hours after revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) had spied on the last three French presidents.
The revelations were first reported in French daily ‘Liberation’ and on news website Mediapart, which said the NSA spied on presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande during the period of at least 2006 until May 2012.
France summoned the U.S. ambassador to explain allegations of what French President Francois Hollande branded “unacceptable” spying by the United States on French officials.
In an interview aired on French broadcaster TF1, Assange said he had more documents to reveal and urged France to take legal action against the United States.
“We do have other informations which are to be released at some point. From the political perspective, I think that what will be released will be even more important that what we published until now. But now, the question that is raised for (French President Francois) Hollande and the French leadership is what response can be given to this unfair situation,” Assange said, speaking from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
He said that time had come for France to take a legal action and go further than Germany by launching a parliamentary inquiry and referring to the prosecutor general.
“It’s not interesting that some countries are spying other countries, it’s not what we are interested in. The root of the problem is that the American authorities spend more than 60 percent of the world budget on intelligence. Their budget is so important that it represents a real threat for France and Europe’s independence and sovereignty. The time has come for France to take the leadership with Germany and do what Germany did not do, and to launch a parliamentary inquiry and to refer the matter to the prosecutor general and take legal action,” Assange said.
The latest revelations of spying among Western allies came after it emerged that the NSA had spied on Germany and Germany’s own BND intelligence agency had co-operated with the NSA to spy on officials and companies elsewhere in Europe.
Germany’s top public prosecutor closed a year-long probe earlier this month into the suspected tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone by U.S. spies.
On the streets of Paris, French people said they were not really worried about the revelations and that spying on other countries was part of the business.
“Personally, I’m not that worried, I know that we are spied on from everywhere, with all the things happening on the Internet, we are followed everywhere, so the fact that the Americans did it does not worry me that much,” Parisian Pierre-Etienne said.
“I tell you, those things were always there, it is a long-standing practice, we also do industrial espionage, it is part of business, I am not shocked,” Philippe said.
Another Parisian said that the United States’ leadership should not lead to impunity in such cases and that France ought to react.
“There is a sense of impunity from the United States leading to some bad behaviour which could be a bit dangerous. They are judging us, even fining us, that is what we see in the private sector. So I think that we can also, as a nation, rebel against this and demand compensation for that. It would be a pity to let his happen without doing anything. It is important to react,” employee at French bank BNP Paribas Aurelia Dard said.
U.S. President Barack Obama reaffirmed in a phone call with his French counterpart Francois Hollande on Wednesday Washington’s commitment to end spying practices deemed “unacceptable” by its allies.