Hollande: Bugging allegations threaten EU-US trade pact

French President Francois Hollande
has said allegations that the US
bugged European embassies could
threaten a huge planned EU-US trade
He said there could be no negotiations
without guarantees that spying would
stop "immediately".
US Secretary of State John Kerry said he
did not know the truth of the claims but
sought to down play them.
Meanwhile, Russian and US security
agencies are reportedly discussing how
to deal with the man behind the leaks.
Former CIA-analyst Edward Snowden is
believed to be at an airport in Moscow,
seeking a destination safe from the US
where he is wanted for prosecution over
the leaking of thousands of classified
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and
US's President Barack Obama have
ordered the chiefs of their respective
agencies, FSB and FBI, to find a way out
of the impasse, a senior Russian official
'Disturbing news'
The allegations that US security services
bugged EU missions and the embassies of
friendly European countries - including
the French, Italian and Greek embassies -
were published at the weekend by Der
Spiegel in Germany and the Guardian in
The claims have angered many in
The European Commission called it
"disturbing news if proven true" and
said it expected "clarity and
transparency" about the issue from
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's
spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said
"bugging friends is unacceptable... we
are no longer in the Cold War".
Italy's Foreign Minister Emma Bonino
said Rome had requested from
Washington "clarification of a very
thorny affair".
Talks over the EU-US pact, the biggest
bilateral deal ever negotiated, are due to
start in Washington DC on 8 July.
France only cleared the way for the talks
in mid-June, after EU members accepted
its demand to shield movies and online
entertainment from the might of
Hollywood and Silicon Valley.
But France's President Hollande signalled
on Monday that the negotiations could
be further delayed if the US cannot give
a guarantee it had ended its surveillance
of the EU.
"We cannot accept this kind of behaviour
between partners and allies. We ask that
this immediately stop," he told journalists
during a visit to western France.
"There can be no negotiations or
transactions in all areas until we have
obtained these guarantees, for France
but also for all of the European Union,
for all partners of the United States."
Steffen Seibert has said that Germany
wants the deal to go ahead but "mutual
trust is necessary in order to come to an
'Must stop'
John Kerry said he did not know the
truth of the allegations, but that he had
been asked about them by the EU's
foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton
and would report back to her.
But at a news conference in Brunei, he
said: "Every country in the world that is
engaged in international affairs of
national security undertakes lots of
activities to protect its national security
and all kinds of information contributes
to that.
"And all I know is that is not unusual for
lots of nations. But beyond that I'm not
going to comment any further until I
have all the facts and find out precisely
what the situation is."
Edward Snowden has been charged in
the US with theft of government
property, unauthorised communication
of national defence information and
wilful communication of classified
communications intelligence.
He left Hong Kong after revealing his
identity, and is reportedly staying at an
airport hotel in Moscow from where he
has applied for asylum in Ecuador.
Green parties in France and Germany on
Monday called on their governments to
offer Mr Snowden asylum.
"Someone like that should be protected,"
said Juergen Trittin, leader of Germany's
"He should get safe haven here in
Europe because he has done us a service
by revealing a massive attack on
European citizens and companies.
Germany, as part of Europe, could do
Green Party leaders have also called for
existing US-EU agreements on the
exchange of bank transfer and passenger
record information to be cancelled.