French minister denounces alleged U.S. spying at Fourth of July fete

July 4, 2013

France’s top security official publicly dressed down the United States at the American ambassador’s Fourth of July party, denouncing alleged U.S. “espionage” of France and other countries.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls was a guest of honor at the fete hosted by Ambassador Charles H. Rivkin on Thursday. In a speech before hundreds of guests, he said that “in the name of our friendship, we owe each other honesty. We must say things clearly, directly, frankly.”

He said President Francois Hollande’s demand for clear and precise explanations about reports of U.S. spying are justified because “such practices, if proven, do not have their place between allies and partners.”

Valls’s comments came as a leading French newspaper reported that France’s intelligence services have put in place a giant electronic surveillance gathering network. Citing no sources, the Le Monde daily said the General Directorate for External Security, France’s foreign intelligence agency, systematically collects information about all electronic data sent by computers and telephones in France, as well as communications between France and abroad.

Later Thursday, Valls said France has rejected an asylum request from National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. Italy also has rejected his bid, Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said in Rome.

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