Wikileaks revelations
French President François Hollande calls for an emergency meeting after WikiLeaks revelationsCharles Platiau/Reuters

Senior French figures have strongly reacted to explosive WikiLeaks revelations of "top secret" NSA files from the collection of surveillance data labelled "Espionnage Elysée" (Elysée Spy).

According to the disclosed documents, the NSA listened to and recorded the telephone conversations of at least three successive French presidents between 2006 and 2012. It was also claimed that French cabinet ministers and Paris's ambassador to the US have been the targets of surveillance.

The files first trickled out via the French daily Libération and the investigative news website Mediapart. Fabrice Arfi, a journalist at Mediapart, said on Wednesday (24 June) that more revelations were to come.

"In reality, all strata of the French public authorities were spied on, not only presidents," Arfi told France Info on Wednesday.

French President François Hollande, one of the three leaders suspected to have been spied on by the US National Security Agency (NSA), called an emergency defence council meeting on Wednesday.

French President condemns US espionage

Jean-Pierre Raffarin, a former prime minister and senator, told AFP that Hollande and Barack Obama would speak over the phone "in the coming hours". This was confirmed by Claude Bartolone, the Socialist President at the National Assembly, who said the conversation would happen "during the day" (Wednesday).

Hollande said Paris would not tolerate actions that threaten its security, and asked Washington to "reiterate its commitments" to end espionage. According to MPs present at the Elysee, Hollande stressed that these practices are "not allowed" in France.

"These are unacceptable facts that have already been the subject of clarification between the US and France, notably at the end of 2013 when the first revelations were made and during a state visit by the president of the Republic to the United States in February 2014. Commitments were made by the US authorities. They need to be recalled and strictly respected," Hollande said.

Barack Obama Francois Hollande
France's President Francois Hollande (L) has requested a conversation with US President Barack Obama (R) to discuss the explosive revelations that the US have spied on French presidents between 2006 and 2012Getty Images/ ALAIN JOCARD

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius has summoned US ambassador Jane Hartley. A senior French intelligence official, Didier Le Bret, will visit the US in the coming days for further discussions.

Stéphane Le Foll, the French government's spokesman described the attitude of the NSA as "unacceptable among allies".

"We find it hard to understand or imagine what motivates an ally to spy on allies who are often on the same strategic positions in world affairs," he told iTélé.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manuel Valls, the latest to comment on the scandal, called for a "code of conduct" between allies. "The United States must make every effort to repair the damage relating to these revelations," he said on France Info.

Politicians react strongly

Following the revelations, a number of French personalities of various political hues condemned the surveillance.

One of the former ministers spied on by the NSA, Philippe Douste-Blazy, said France can "absolutely not tolerate anything that may threaten in any way its security and interests."

On France Info, Senator François Rebsamen, denounced the grave and abnormal practices.

"Between friends, we don't do that, even if we see that everyone will primarily defend its national independence. We need to protect ourselves. The best thing to do when we have secret things to say to each other it not to do it over the phone," he told France Info.

For Frédéric Lefebvre, MP representing French nationals abroad, the government "needs to be careful about the citizen and their freedom. How are we protecting them, whether they are American or European?"

MP Marion Maréchal-Le Pen - the Front National founder's granddaughter, condemned France's "inertia" in the face of the American espionage.

Responding to the allegations, the US National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price said: "We are not targeting and will not target the communications of President Hollande ... we work closely with France on all matters of international concern, and the French are indispensable partners."