- Agents said to have intercepted 70 million calls and text messages a month
- France had previously blamed the United States of America
- US was first suspected of hacking into Nicolas Sarkozy’s phone in 2012
PUBLISHED: 11:32 EST, 25 October 2013 | UPDATED: 11:34 EST, 25 October 2013
Israel and not America was behind the hacking of millions of French phones, it was claimed today.
In the latest extraordinary twist in the global eavesdropping scandal, Israeli agents are said to have intercepted more than 70 million calls and text messages a month.
Up until now the French have been blaming the USA, even summoning the country’s Paris ambassador to provide an explanation.
France first suspected the US of hacking into former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s communications network when he was unsuccessfully trying for re-election in 2012
But today’s Le Monde newspaper provides evidence that it was in fact Israeli agents who were listening in.
France first suspected the US of hacking into former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s communications network when he was unsuccessfully trying for re-election in 2012.
Intelligence officials Bernard Barbier and Patrick Pailloux travelled from Paris to Washington to demand an explanation, but the Americans hinted that the Israelis were to blame.
The Americans insisted they have never been behind any hacking in France, and were always keen to get on with the French, whom they viewed as some of their closest allies.
They were so determined to be friends with the French, that US briefing notes included details of how to pronounce the names of the Gallic officials.
A note published in Le Monde shows that the Americans refused to rule out Mossad, Israel’s notoriously uncompromising intelligence agency, or the ISNU, Israel’s cyber-intelligence unit.
Tailored Access Operations (TAO), the branch of the US National Security Agency (NSA) which deals with cyber-attacks, is referred to throughout the note.
It reads: ‘TAO intentionally did not ask either Mossad or ISNU whether they were involved as France is not an approved target for joint discussions.’
Le Monde’s article, co-authored by US journalist Glenn Greenwald, whose main contact is NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, however, hints that the Israelis were doing the spying.
Both US and French intelligence work closely with Mossad, but there is known to be a great deal of suspicion between all the agencies.
A 2008 NSA note says that the Israelis are ‘excellent partners in terms of sharing information’, but it also says that Mossad is ‘the third most aggressive intelligence service in the world against the United States’.
A spokesman for the Israeli government told Le Monde: ‘Israel is a country which is a friend, ally and partner of France and does not carry out any hostile activity which could pose a threat to its security.’
France has complained in the past about Mossad’s use of its soil to plan so called black operations including the 2010 assassination in Dubai of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh of the Palestinian movement Hamas.
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