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US refuses to confirm or deny France spy report

WASHINGTON: The United States refused Tuesday to confirm or deny reports that the US National Security Agency had spied on three French presidents.

“We are not going to comment on specific intelligence allegations,” the White House National Security Council told reporters.

“As a general matter, we do not conduct any foreign intelligence surveillance activities unless there is a specific and validated national security purpose,” it said.

“This applies to ordinary citizens and world leaders alike,” it added, in a statement also released by the office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Washington was responding after a report by the French newspaper Liberation and investigative news website Mediapart, citing leaked files provided by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

According to the apparently classified US documents, the United States wiretapped former French presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy and current leader Francois Hollande.

Hollande has not responded publicly to the report, but a source in his office told AFP he had ordered a meeting of defense and intelligence chiefs for Wednesday to discuss it. – AFP

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