Was ISRAEL behind the hacking of millions of French phones and NOT the U.S.? Extraordinary twist in spying saga revealed

  • Agents said  to have intercepted 70 million calls and text messages a  month
  • France had  previously blamed the United States of America
  • US was  first suspected of hacking into Nicolas Sarkozy’s phone in  2012

By  Nabila Ramdani

PUBLISHED: 11:32 EST, 25  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 11:34 EST, 25 October 2013

Israel and not America was behind the hacking  of millions of French phones, it was claimed today.

In the latest extraordinary twist in the  global eavesdropping scandal, Israeli agents are said to have intercepted more  than 70 million calls and text messages a month.

Up until now the French have been blaming the  USA, even summoning the country’s Paris ambassador to provide an  explanation.

France first suspected the US of hacking into former president Nicolas Sarkozy's communications network when he was unsuccessfully trying for re-election in 2012 

France first suspected the US of hacking into former  president Nicolas Sarkozy’s communications network when he was unsuccessfully  trying for re-election in 2012

But today’s Le Monde newspaper provides  evidence that it was in fact Israeli agents who were listening in.

France first suspected the US of hacking into  former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s communications network when he was  unsuccessfully trying for re-election in 2012.

Intelligence officials Bernard Barbier and  Patrick Pailloux travelled from Paris to Washington to demand an explanation,  but the Americans hinted that the Israelis were to blame.

The Americans insisted they have never been  behind any hacking in France, and were always keen to get on with the French,  whom they viewed as some of their closest allies.

They were so determined to be friends with  the French, that US briefing notes included details of how to pronounce the  names of the Gallic officials.

A note published in Le Monde shows that the  Americans refused to rule out Mossad, Israel’s notoriously uncompromising  intelligence agency, or the ISNU, Israel’s cyber-intelligence unit.

Tailored Access Operations (TAO), the branch  of the US National Security Agency (NSA) which deals with cyber-attacks, is  referred to throughout the note.

It reads: ‘TAO intentionally did not ask  either Mossad or ISNU whether they were involved as France is not an approved  target for joint discussions.’

Le Monde’s article, co-authored by US  journalist Glenn Greenwald, whose main contact is NSA whistleblower Edward  Snowden, however, hints that the Israelis were doing the spying.

Both US and French intelligence work closely  with Mossad, but there is known to be a great deal of suspicion between all the  agencies.

A 2008 NSA note says that the Israelis are  ‘excellent partners in terms of sharing information’, but it also says that  Mossad is ‘the third most aggressive intelligence service in the world against  the United States’.

A spokesman for the Israeli government told  Le Monde: ‘Israel is a country which is a friend, ally and partner of France and  does not carry out any hostile activity which could pose a threat to its  security.’

France has complained in the past about  Mossad’s use of its soil to plan so called black operations including the 2010  assassination in Dubai of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh of the Palestinian movement  Hamas.

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