France’s DGSE spy agency also ‘listens to the world’ – report

DGSE headquarters. (Image from Wikipedia)
France’s DGSE spy agency has been intercepting telephone communications across the world via a network of secret cables linking Europe with the rest of the world, an investigation by French daily Le Nouvel Observateur has revealed.

“The NSA isn’t there alone,” the newspapernotedfollowing an investigation that lasted several weeks. “France is also listening to the world,” it added.

According to the newspaper, in early 2008, Nicolas Sarkozy authorized the DGSE to snoop on international communications transmitted via cables linking Europe with the rest of the world. According to the top secret plan, 700 million euros were earmarked each year from 2008 to 2013 to install interception stations where the cables end in France (particularly in Marseille, Penmarch and Saint-Valéry-en-Caux). According to L’Obs, the plan was later approved by Francois Hollande. At least five major cables routed to the US, India, Southeast Asia and West Africa were tapped during this period with the help of Orange operator and the Alcatel-Lucent group, the newspaper wrote. It also claims that, in November 2010, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron signed a secret accord on cooperation between the DGSE and the UK’s GCHQ.

READ MORE: NSA intercepted French corporate contracts worth $200 million over decade – WikiLeaks

According to a new WikiLeaks report released earlier this week, Washington has been conducting a policy of economic espionage against France for over a decade, intercepting correspondences of the Finance Minister and French ambassador to the US, just to name a few, as well as snagging all corporate contracts valued at over $200 million. The revelations come in line with WikiLeaks’ ongoing publication of top secret documents from US surveillance operations against France, dubbed by the whistleblowing site as “Espionnage Élysée.”

According to WikiLeaks’ latest report, the “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 the United States started spying on the French economic sector back in 2002. WikiLeaks said that some documents had been authorized to be shared with NSA’s Anglophone partners (the so-called “Five Eyes” group involving Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the UK.) According to the report, the UK has also benefited from the NSA’s economic espionage activities against Paris.

READ MORE: Hollande says US spying 'unacceptable' after WikiLeaks report, ambassador summoned

“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!” WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, said in a statement on Monday.

The documents reveal that the US has been monitoring the conversations and communications of 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 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,” Assange stated.

Despite WikiLeaks’ tapping allegations, Barack Obama told Francois Hollande that Washington has not been spying on top French officials. Hollande nonetheless released a statement noting that the spying is “unacceptable” and “France will not tolerate it.”