France's stance as a victim of spying by the US National Security Agency (NSA) is increasingly losing credibility, according to further investigations by French newspaper Le Monde, which claimed this week that Orange has been giving data to France's main intelligence agency for years.
According to the newspaper, Canada's secret services suspect that French intelligence services may be behind an email spying operation that was aimed at Iran's nuclear program but also ensnared other targets in Canada, Spain, Greece, Norway, the Côte d'Ivoire and Algeria.
Meanwhile, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden and an investigation by Le Monde, France's largest telco Orange has allegedly been sharing its data for years with France's main intelligence agency, the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure, or DGSE.
The DGSE has a close cooperation with "a French telecommunications operator", said the Le Monde report, citing a leaked internal document from the UK's GCHQ, the equivalent of the NSA.
The French daily concludes that the operator is Orange — formerly France Telecom — due to the length of its relationship with the government, and the description of the specific expertise of the company.
Orange refutes accusations it has been doing anything illegal. "As is the case for all operators, Orange has relations with the French state's services that are responsible for national security. This relationship takes place within a strict legal framework, under the responsibility of the state and appropriate legal control by judges," an Orange spokesperson said.
The Le Monde report added that this massive collection of data concerns both French people and foreigners. "It is used by the DGSE, which puts it at the disposal of all French intelligence agencies under the pooling of technical information and its database," said the paper, which said is data is shared with foreign allies such as GCHQ.
However, "the relationship between France Telecom and the DGSE is not the same as that found in the NSA's PRISM programme, which has contractual relationships with internet giants," a former French intelligence chief told the paper. "There is no formalisation of this cooperation between the DGSE and France Telecom-Orange."