An Ex-CIA Officer Speaks Out: The Italian Job – Published on Nov 3, 2015

Sabrina De Sousa is one of nearly two-dozen CIA officers who was prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced by Italian courts in absentia in 2009 for the role she allegedly played in the rendition of a radical cleric named Abu Omar. It was the first and only criminal prosecution that has ever taken place related to the CIA’s rendition program, which involved more than 100 suspected terrorists and the assistance of dozens of European countries.

But De Sousa, a dual US and Portuguese citizen, said she had nothing to do with the cleric’s abduction and has been wrongly accused. For the past decade, she has been on a global quest to clear her name. VICE News met up with De Sousa in Lisbon, Portugal–and other key figures connected to the case–for an exclusive interview about the steps she’s now taking in an effort to hold the CIA accountable for one of the most notorious counterterrorism operations in the history of the agency.

Watch: The Architect –

Before Osama bin Laden Raid, Obama Administration’s Secret Legal Deliberations

WASHINGTON — Weeks before President Obama ordered the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in May 2011, four administration lawyers hammered out rationales intended to overcome any legal obstacles — and made it all but inevitable that Navy SEALs would kill the fugitive Qaeda leader, not capture him.

Stretching sparse precedents, the lawyers worked in intense secrecy. Fearing leaks, the White House would not let them consult aides or even the administration’s top lawyer, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. They did their own research, wrote memos on highly secure laptops and traded drafts hand-delivered by trusted couriers.

From left, Stephen W. Preston, the C.I.A.’s general counsel; Mary DeRosa, the National Security Council’s legal adviser; then-Rear Admiral James W. Crawford III, the Joint Chiefs of Staff legal adviser, and Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel worked secretly on clearing legal hurdles for the 2011 raid against Osama bin Laden. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; U.S. Government; Doug Mills/The New York Times 

Just days before the raid, the lawyers drafted five secret memos so that if pressed later, they could prove they were not inventing after-the-fact reasons for having blessed it. “We should memorialize our rationales because we may be called upon to explain our legal conclusions, particularly if the operation goes terribly badly,” said Stephen W. Preston, the C.I.A.’s general counsel, according to officials familiar with the internal deliberations.

While the Bin Laden operation has been much scrutinized, the story of how a tiny team of government lawyers helped shape and justify Mr. Obama’s high-stakes decision has not been previously told. The group worked as military and intelligence officials conducted a parallel effort to explore options and prepare members of SEAL Team 6 for the possible mission.

The legal analysis offered the administration wide flexibility to send ground forces onto Pakistani soil without the country’s consent, to explicitly authorize a lethal mission, to delay telling Congress until afterward, and to bury a wartime enemy at sea. By the end, one official said, the lawyers concluded that there was “clear and ample authority for the use of lethal force under U.S. and international law.”

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Security This Week: Apparently China Is Still Hacking US Companies – YAEL GRAUER. 10.24.15. 7:00 AM

This week, a group of teenagers hacked CIA director John Brennan’s private AOL account, and WikiLeaks started publishing his leaked emails. Some ingenious French criminals exploited the supposedly secure chip and pin credit cards that are even more secure than what the US just adopted. (Let’s just say we told you so.) Facebook will now warn users about nation-state attacks, but it will also allow users to find public posts using search, so you may want to consider hiding yours. And WIRED set the record straight on the importance of reporting on car hacking.

But that’s not all. Each Saturday we round up the news stories that we didn’t break or cover in depth at WIRED, but which deserve your attention nonetheless. As always, click on the headlines to read the full story in each link posted. And stay safe out there!

China Said It Would Stop Hacking US Companies, But It Didn’t

The US and China reached a historic agreement last month to stop hacking into each other’s systems to steal economic secrets. But according to the American security company Crowdstrike, this hasn’t stopped hackers with ties to the Chinese government from continuing to target US companies. In fact, one attack took place the very next day after the agreement was reached. However, there’s a possibility that the hackers were acting on their own rather than following government orders.

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Spy vs. Spy: Inside the Fraying U.S.-Israel Ties – By ADAM ENTOUS Oct. 22, 2015 9:01 p.m. ET

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared at a news conference at the White House on Sept. 10, 2010, a time when both countries began to split over the best means to keep Iran from an atomic bomb.

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared at a news conference at the White House on Sept. 10, 2010, a time when both countries began to split over the best means to keep Iran from an atomic bomb. PHOTO: JASON REED/REUTERS

The U.S. closely monitored Israel’s military bases and eavesdropped on secret communications in 2012, fearing its longtime ally might try to carry out a strike on Fordow, Iran’s most heavily fortified nuclear facility.

Nerves frayed at the White House after senior officials learned Israeli aircraft had flown in and out of Iran in what some believed was a dry run for a commando raid on the site. Worried that Israel might ignite a regional war, the White House sent a second aircraft carrier to the region and readied attack aircraft, a senior U.S. official said, “in case all hell broke loose.”

The two countries, nursing a mutual distrust, each had something to hide. U.S. officials hoped to restrain Israel long enough to advance negotiations on a nuclear deal with Iran that the U.S. had launched in secret. U.S. officials saw Israel’s strike preparations as an attempt to usurp American foreign policy.

Instead of talking to each other, the allies kept their intentions secret. To figure out what they weren’t being told, they turned to their spy agencies to fill gaps. They employed deception, not only against Iran, but against each other. After working in concert for nearly a decade to keep Iran from an atomic bomb, the U.S. and Israel split over the best means: diplomacy, covert action or military strikes.

Personal strains between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu erupted at their first Oval Office meeting in 2009, and an accumulation of grievances in the years since plunged relations between the two countries into crisis.

This Wall Street Journal account of the souring of U.S.-Israel relations over Iran is based on interviews with nearly two dozen current and former senior U.S. and Israeli officials.

U.S. and Israeli officials say they want to rebuild trust but acknowledge it won’t be easy. Mr. Netanyahu reserves the right to continue covert action against Iran’s nuclear program, said current and former Israeli officials, which could put the spy services of the U.S. and Israel on a collision course.

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Cyber Sleuths Track Hacker to China’s Military – By JOSH CHIN Sept. 23, 2015 5:00 p.m. ET

The story of a Chinese military staffer’s alleged involvement in hacking provides a detailed look into Beijing’s sprawling state-controlled cyberespionage machinery

Security researchers have linked a Chinese military staffer to a hacker collective called Naikon. Shown, Chinese soldiers on parade in Beijing earlier this month.

Security researchers have linked a Chinese military staffer to a hacker collective called Naikon. Shown, Chinese soldiers on parade in Beijing earlier this month. PHOTO: YAO DAWEI/XINHUA/ZUMA PRESS


Security researchers have linked a Chinese military staffer to a hacker collective called Naikon. Shown, Chinese soldiers on parade in Beijing earlier this month. Photo: Yao Dawei/Xinhua/Zuma Press


Josh Chin

Sept. 23, 2015 5:00 p.m. ET

KUNMING, China—The email attachment would tempt anyone following the diplomatic standoff between China and other countries in the South China Sea. The Microsoft Word document contained text and photos depicting Thai naval personnel capturing Vietnamese fishermen and forcing them to kneel at gunpoint.

But the attachment was a decoy: Anyone who opened it inadvertently downloaded software that searched their computers for sensitive information and sent it to an obscure corner of the Internet. Manning that corner, according to a new report from U.S. security researchers, was Ge Xing, a member of a Chinese military reconnaissance unit.

The growing reach of China’s army of cyberwarriors has become a flash point in relations between Beijing and Washington that President Barack Obamasays will be a focus during Chinese President Xi Jinping ’s state visit to the U.S. this week.

Cyberspace is the newest domain in warfare, and China’s relentless testing of its boundaries has flustered the U.S. The story of the Chinese military staffer’s alleged involvement in hacking provides a detailed look into Beijing’s sprawling state-controlled cyberespionage machinery.

Mr. Ge doesn’t appear to fit the hacker stereotype. His published academic papers identify him as an expert in a nontechnical subject: Thai politics. Frequent posts on Chinese social media that researchers have linked to him show him to be a new father and avid bicyclist who drives a white Volkswagen Golf sedan and occasionally criticizes the government.

But his activity elsewhere on the Internet links him to a Chinese hacker collective that attacks targets in an area of strategic interest to the U.S., according to the report by cybersecurity concern ThreatConnect and security consulting firm Defense Group Inc.

The U.S. has been caught flat-footed in recent months by a string of cyberintrusions in which Chinese state-sponsored hackers are the leading suspects. They include the theft of sensitive personal data on millions of government employees from computers at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and similar network breaches at health insurers and other companies.

Under pressure to respond, the White House has begun preparing a list of sanctions against Chinese companies that U.S. officials believe have benefited from cybertheft of U.S. corporate secrets, Mr. Obama said last week. Those sanctions, if implemented, wouldn’t address state-to-state hacking.

Beijing has bristled at U.S. finger-pointing on cybersecurity and portrayed itself as a victim of hacking, pointing to disclosures by former U.S. security contractor Edward Snowden of U.S. government cyberspying on China. “Cybertheft of commercial secrets and hacking attacks against government networks are both illegal,” Mr. Xi told the Journal in a written interview prior to embarking on his U.S. visit. “Such acts are criminal offenses and should be punished according to law and relevant international conventions.”

The ThreatConnect-DGI report helps throw new light on a still little-understood aspect of China’s cyber operations: the relationship between the country’s military and an aggressive corps of Chinese-speaking hackers that appear to be pressing the country’s interests abroad.

Through accounts allegedly tied to Mr. Ge, the report draws a direct link between his unit, People’s Liberation Army Unit 78020, a military intelligence arm based in China’s southwest, and a hacker collective known as Naikon that security researchers say has successfully penetrated key computer networks in countries competing with China for control over the South China Sea.

“What we see from Chinese intrusions is that they have a very grass roots, bottom-up kind of model,” said James Mulvenon, director of DGI’s Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis. “They have a lot of groups that are encouraged with relatively vague guidance to go out and develop hundreds of accesses and bring back lots of data.”

Two academic papers on Thailand’s political situation Mr. Ge published in 2008 identify him as working for Unit 78020, a technical reconnaissance bureau based in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming. It is one of more than two dozen such bureaus within the PLA tasked with intelligence gathering, analysis and computer network defense and exploitation, according to Mark Stokes, executive director at Virginia think tank Project 2049 Institute and an authority on the role of China’s military in signals intelligence like cyberspying.

Unit 78020 is controlled by the PLA’s Chengdu Military Region, which is responsible for securing Tibet as well as China’s borders with Vietnam, Myanmar and India. Another reconnaissance bureau under the Chengdu Military Region was responsible for the hacking of computer networks connected to exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, Mr. Stokes said. Given the region’s focus on the border, “it also makes sense that they would do collections related to the South China Sea,” he said.

Staff with Unit 78020’s propaganda office declined requests for an interview. A spokesman for Chengdu Military Region referred questions to the defense ministry, which didn’t respond to requests for comment. The foreign ministry also didn’t respond to requests for comment.


The ThreatConnect-DGI report makes the connection between the unit and the hacking group by matching Mr. Ge’s alleged activity on social media, where he uses the name greensky27, with activity on a part of Naikon’s network that also uses the greensky27 name. The Wall Street Journal reviewed the report before its publication, verifying its observations of Mr. Ge’s social-media activity and other evidence linking him to Unit 78020 and Naikon.

Researchers at PassiveTotal, a U.S. cybersecurity threat analysis company that provided some of the data for the report, said the report offered fair insight into how data about the use of hackers’ infrastructure can be used to track and identify potential threats.

In a brief phone conversation with the Journal in August, Mr. Ge confirmed he uses the greensky27 name on social media but declined to speak further when told he was the subject of a report. “If you publish, I’ll call the police,” he said and hung up before hearing the substance of the report. He didn’t answer subsequent phone calls or questions later sent by text message.

The greensky27 Naikon domain went dormant within an hour of the Journal’s phone conversation with Mr. Ge, according to ThreatConnect. Recent visits to the domain show it is still offline.

Named by experts after a piece of code found in malware it once used, Naikon sends well-crafted emails to trick recipients into opening attachments infected with malicious software, according to researchers. Infected attachments they have used include a calendar of Laotian beauty contestants, news stories and memos on strategic topics in English and local languages, and memos that appear to be based on classified information, according to a May report by Russian antivirus maker Kaspersky Lab.

Relying on this technique—known as spearphishing—Naikon has penetrated the networks of governments, military, media and energy companies in Vietnam, the Philippines and other countries throughout Southeast Asia, Kaspersky said. “Their success rate has been high,” said Kurt Baumgartner,principal security researcher at Kaspersky. “When they want to get in, they get in.”

China’s claims to sovereignty over vast swaths of the South China Sea—one of the world’s busiest shipping routes—have sparked conflict with many of its neighbors, including U.S. ally the Philippines. Beijing has rejected U.S. criticisms of its claims, saying territorial disputes should be settled bilaterally between those directly affected. It has also pressed ahead with island-building in disputed areas, raising tensions the U.S. fears could destabilize the region.

The malicious software Naikon uses to spy on its targets is “stone age” compared with what Russian hackers use, said Richard Barger, chief intelligence officer at ThreatConnect, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be advanced. “The targets they’re most likely going up against, this would be sophisticated for them,” he said.

ThreatConnect said it found Mr. Ge through a break in Naikon’s usual pattern. To siphon off stolen information without being detected, Naikon uses hundreds of special Internet domains—akin to Web addresses—that are able to connect at various places around the Internet. The names of most of those domains appear to refer to targets or are designed to mimic legitimate websites in target countries, but the greensky27 domain didn’t fit either of those criteria, ThreatConnect said.

Kunming connection

Looking at the greensky27 domain’s activity over a five-year period, researchers found it making an unusually large number of long-lasting connections to Internet addresses in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming, according to the report. Chinese-language analysts at DGI followed that lead and discovered multiple Internet accounts making references to Kunming that used the same greensky27 name.

Comparing the domain with the social-media accounts, the researchers found a pattern. In February 2012, for example, the domain made a series of connections to Internet servers in Beijing on the same dates a user posting under greensky27 on Tencent Holdings Ltd. ’s microblogging platform indicated that he was visiting the city. The domain went dormant for more than a week in November that same year, starting the day a user named greensky27 posted a message announcing the birth of a boy surnamed Ge on a discussion board maintained by Chinese search giant Baidu Inc., the report said.

DGI said it found a clue to Mr. Ge’s identity in photos posted on the greensky27 Tencent account in 2013 that showed a visit to what it called the Ge family ancestral temple in Yuxi county, about 50 miles south of Kunming. Digging around further online, DGI said it found Mr. Ge’s full name and phone number, as well as the academic papers listing Mr. Ge as working for Unit 78020. Mr. Ge’s rank in the military and specific role within the unit are unclear, the researchers said.

A series of skyline snapshots Mr. Ge allegedly posted online during work hours between 2011 and 2013 confirm an affiliation with the military. Taken from the same vantage point, they show a view of a tall apartment tower that could have been captured only from inside a military complex located in downtown Kunming.

Another series of photos showed snow-covered cars in a parking lot with a water tower in the background that also indicated they were shot from inside the military compound, the report said. “Little Golf and his buddies,” he wrote, in apparent reference to his car and to those parked around it.

On a recent visit to the complex by a Journal reporter, security personnel confirmed the compound belongs to Unit 78020 of the People’s Liberation Army. Staff with the unit’s propaganda office wouldn’t say whether Mr. Ge worked there.

The user was coy about discussing his military background on social media. The Tencent account listed him as having attended PLA International Studies University in 1998. In 2014, he posted photos of a visit to the university’s campus in the city of Nanjing with a short message: “Just posting photos, not explaining, look for yourself.” A couple of weeks later he posted photos of a PLA firefighter demonstration and from an event celebrating the PLA’s 87th anniversary. “Not explaining,” he wrote again.

Quiet at holidays

Some of his early posts contained cryptic political and social commentary. “Faith = Whatever the party tells me to do, I do,” he wrote in a post in July 2012. In another post the previous fall, he repeated a common joke about China’s state TV broadcaster’s tendency to emphasize the positive in its nightly news show: “I have a dream—to always live inside Xinwen Lianbo.”

After the birth of his son in late 2012, his posts focused on family life, the weather and travel. One post early the following year featured a picture of a cluster of villas. “Ten year goal,” he wrote. The Tencent account was deleted within a day of the Journal’s call to Mr. Ge.

Activity on the greensky27 domain indicates a relatively regular work schedule. The domain connected to the Naikon network around 9 a.m., went quiet around lunch and typically signed off around 6 p.m., according to the report.

The domain also tended to go dormant around China’s annual Spring Festival holiday, the report said, but there were exceptions. In early 2012, according to ThreatConnect, the domain went silent for Spring Festival only to suddenly come to life the weekend of Jan. 27, a day after news broke that a delegation from the Philippines had launched talks in Washington over military cooperation with the U.S.

Data collected by ThreatConnect show frequent connections between the hacker domain and Internet addresses in Thailand beginning in 2012. Those connections began to tail off in May 2014, after the U.S. indictments of five PLA officers on charges of commercial cybertheft. China has denied the allegations.

The social-media feeds attributed to Mr. Ge indicate he spends much of his time either playing with his son or riding, repairing and talking about his mountain bike. Xiong Junwu, a bike shop owner and founder of Kunming’s Fattire Fun Bike Club, recognized a photo of Mr. Ge and said he occasionally joined the club’s weekly rides in the Kunming area.

Like many Chinese outdoors enthusiasts, Mr. Ge sometimes turned wistful when contemplating polluted skies. “Today’s air is only average,” he wrote next to a photo of a gray sky taken from inside the Unit 78020 compound. “Wishing peace to everyone and tranquility to the world.”

Write to Josh Chin at

Security News This Week: US Homeland Security Is Vulnerable to Hacks, Too – YAEL GRAUER. 19.15. 09.0 AM

Adobe-Flash-Featured2Getty Images

It’s been quite an eventful week for hacks.  A lockscreen bypass attack for Android phones was detected, meaning it’s time to switch to a PIN or pattern unlock. And just because you’re on an iPhone doesn’t mean you’re exempt from phone hacking; you’ll want to turn off the Bluetooth-enabled Airdrop file sharing feature—unless you like malicious apps, that is. In a victory for privacy advocates, a small New Hampshire library did not succumb to bullying from Homeland Security and instead reinstated its Tor node after a board meeting. Oh, and a new crypto tool to anonymize surveys has come out. And, of course, a maker kid was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school when his teacher thought it was a bomb. He’s now Silicon Valley’s newest hero.

But that’s not all. Each Saturday we round up the news stories that we didn’t cover in depth at WIRED, but which deserve your attention nonetheless. As always, click on the headlines to read the full story in each link posted, and stay safe out there!

Facebook Will Start Targeting Ads Based on Your Shares and Likes Next Month

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably assumed that Facebook’s ad targeting algorithms are already using your “Like” and “Share” data to serve you targeted ads. Actually, that’s starting next month. Up ‘til now, the social media conglomerate has simply been logging the data and won’t begin using it to fine-tune ads until October. While there is a privacy setting allowing users to opt out of seeing targeted ads based on their online activity, the information is still being logged, so you can’t exactly opt out of having your web browsing tracked across multiple sites and browsing habits funneled into Facebook’s ad targeting system.

Obama Administration Faces Growing Support of Widespread Encryption

White House officials have apparently given up on legislation to address the rise of encryption, and may go so far as to publicly reject a law forcing companies to unlock customer communication devices under a court order, according to documents obtained by the Washington Post as well as comments from anonymous senior officials. The hope is that supporting encryption would repair trust in the government as well as U.S. tech companies. However, the intelligence community’s top lawyer, Robert S. Litt, thinks public opinion could turn in the event of a terrorist attack or a crime where strong encryption hinders law enforcement, and the government could always try to opportunistically backdoor encryption when that time comes.

The Department of Homeland Security Is Vulnerable to Hacking, Audit Finds

The Department of Homeland Security may be in charge of protecting government security, but its own information systems are vulnerable to hacking, according to an audit. Vulnerabilities on internal systems used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Secret Service to report investigation statistics, case tracking, and information sharing were found. The report by the Office of the Inspector General for the Department stated that the vulnerabilities found “may allow unauthorized individuals to gain access to sensitive data.” Although it found some progress with coordination between agencies, the audit recommended department-wide training and strategic planning in response to a cyber attack.

ISIS Hackers Reported to Have Accessed Top Secret British Government Emails

A GCHQ investigation revealed that ISIS hackers intercepted top secret emails from the British government, according to Mirror</em>. Little information was revealed, except that ISIS apparently targeted information held by several of David Cameron’s most senior ministers, including Home Secretary Theresa May, possibly discovering events where government figures or British Royal Family members were expected to be in attendance.<em>Mirror</em> further reported that a ringleader of the alleged plot was killed by a drone strike.

Federal Court Lifts National Security Letter Gag Order 11 Years Later

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Christopher Soghoian: A brief history of phone wiretapping — and how to avoid it TED2015 · 6:16 · Filmed Mar 2015

Who is listening in on your phone calls? On a landline, it could be anyone, says privacy activist Christopher Soghoian, because surveillance backdoors are built into the phone system by default, to allow governments to listen in. But then again, so could a foreign intelligence service … or a criminal. Which is why, says Soghoian, some tech companies are resisting governments’ call to build the same backdoors into mobile phones and new messaging systems. From this TED Fellow, learn how some tech companies are working to keep your calls and messages private.

US spy chief James Clapper says China lead suspect in cyber hack

China is the “leading suspect” in the massive hack of a US government agency holding the personnel records of millions of Americans, US intelligence chief James Clapper has said.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper listens to remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama at DNI Office to mark its 10th anniversary, in McLean, Virginia, April 24, 2015.

James Clapper is the highest ranking US official to publicly implicate China

China is the “leading suspect” in the massive hack of a US government agency holding the personnel records of millions of Americans, US intelligence chief James Clapper has said.

He is the highest-ranking US official to publicly implicate Beijing since news of the data breach emerged.

China always dismissed suggestions that it was behind the hacking.

The statement comes after three days of high-level talks in which China and the US agreed to a “code of conduct”.

“China remains the leading suspects,” said Mr Clapper at a conference in Washington DC, but “the US government continues to investigate” he added, according to his office.


Background to a “massive” hack in five points

  • On 5 June the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) said more than four million employees, retirees, contractors and job applicants may have had their personal data compromised
  • Some reports have put the number at 14 million or higher – this remains unconfirmed
  • The OPM first became aware of the breach in April
  • Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee said the hackers were believed to be in China
  • It’s not the first attempt: In March 2014 hackers breached OPM networks – an intrusion blamed on China – but the attempt was blocked

US hit by ‘massive data breach’

China military unit ‘behind prolific hacking’


At the Washington talks where cyber security was a top priority, US Secretary of State John Kerry said there was a need to work with China to develop a “code of conduct” on state behaviour in cyberspace – Chinese representatives had agreed with these conclusions.

“It’s something that we agreed needs to be addressed and hopefully it can be addressed soon,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday.

China has said any suggestion that it was behind the hacking is “irresponsible and unscientific”.

NSA spied on French presidents: WikiLeaks – PARIS | BY JAMES REGAN AND MARK JOHN

The United States National Security Agency spied on French presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, WikiLeaks said in a press statement published on Tuesday, citing top secret intelligence reports and technical documents.

French President Francois Hollande (L) and former French President Jacques Chirac pose before attending the award ceremony for the Prix de la Fondation Chirac at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris November 21, 2014.  REUTERS/Patrick Kovarik/Pool

French President Francois Hollande (L) and former French President Jacques Chirac pose before attending the award ceremony for the Prix de la Fondation Chirac at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris November 21, 2014. REUTERS/Patrick Kovarik/Pool

The revelations were first reported in French daily Liberation and on news website Mediapart, which said the NSA spied on the presidents during a period of at least 2006 until May 2012, the month Hollande took over from Sarkozy.

WikiLeaks said the documents derived from directly targeted NSA surveillance of the communications of Hollande (2012–present), Sarkozy (2007–2012) and Chirac (1995–2007), as well as French cabinet ministers and the French ambassador to the U.S.

According to the documents, Sarkozy is said to have considered restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks without U.S. involvement and Hollande feared a Greek euro zone exit back in 2012.

These latest revelations regarding spying among allied Western countries come after it emerged that the NSA had spied on Germany and Germany’s own BND intelligence agency had cooperated with the NSA to spy on officials and companies elsewhere in Europe.

“The French people have a right to know that their elected government is subject to hostile surveillance from a supposed ally,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in the statement, adding that more “important revelations” would soon follow.

The documents include summaries of conversations between French government officials on the global financial crisis, the future of the European Union, the relationship between Hollande’s administration and Merkel’s government, French efforts to determine the make-up of the executive staff of the United Nations, and a dispute between the French and U.S. governments over U.S. spying on France.

The documents also contained the cell phone numbers of numerous officials in the Elysee presidential palace including the direct cell phone of the president, WikiLeaks said.

Last week, WikiLeaks published more than 60,000 diplomatic cables from Saudi Arabia and said on its website it would release half a million more in the coming weeks.

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