Wikileaks: NSA spied on three French presidents

No Merkozy here: François Hollande and Angela Merkel. [Reuters]

WikiLeaks said on Tuesday (23 June) that the National Security Agency spied on French presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, citing secret intelligence reports.

The revelations were made in a batch of intelligence intercepts leaked by WikiLeaks to France’s Liberation, and the Mediapart investigative website.

Accordingly, Hollande called a secret meeting of his cabinet about the potential consequences of a Greek exit from the eurozone as early as May 2012.

The leaks reveal that the Socialist Hollande, who at that point had only been in power a few days, had been disappointed by a first meeting as president with conservative German Chancellor Angela Merkel and requested talks with leaders of the Social Democratic Party, her centre-left junior coalition partner.

France has long maintained that it wants Greece to remain in the eurozone. While it has backed calls for Greece to enact reforms and respect its debt commitments, it has also argued that excessive austerity is not the right answer.

Deep mistrust

“Hollande stressed that the meeting would be secret,” WikiLeaks quoted an NSA intercept from May 22, 2012 as saying of talks he requested with “appropriate ministers” in his cabinet to discuss the possible fall-out on France’s economy and banks if Greece exited the eurozone.

“The French president seems worried that if word were to get out that Paris is seriously considering the possibility of a Greek exit, it would deepen the crisis.”

The intercept added that Hollande had complained that Merkel appeared to have “given up” on Greece when the two leaders met the week before in Berlin.

“This made Hollande very worried for Greece and the Greek people, who might react by voting for an extremist party,” it said, adding that Hollande subsequently invited SPD Chairman Sigmar Gabriel to Paris for talks.

Gabriel and other SPD officials met Hollande in Paris on 13 June 2012 and said after the talks that there was broad consensus about the need for more pro-growth policies in the eurozone.

There was no immediate comment from Hollande’s office regarding the WikiLeaks statement.

Greece’s leftist government expressed confidence on Tuesday that parliament would approve a debt deal with lenders, despite an angry reaction from some of its own lawmakers who accused it of caving in to pressure for more austerity.

>> Read: Leftist Syriza MPs to reject new EU deal

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