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Obama Administration Says Le Monde Reports on Spy Activities 'Inaccurate'

by VOA News October 23, 2013

The Obama administration is denying some allegations by a French newspaper about U.S. intelligence activities in that country as Washington faces a firestorm of criticism over new revelations that it has spied on its allies.

U.S. Intelligence Director James Clapper issued a statement late Tuesday saying the reports in Le Monde 'contain inaccurate and misleading information regarding U.S. foreign intelligence activities.'

Clapper said a story published Monday in Le Monde that the U.S. National Security Agency collected the phone and electronic data of more than 70 million French citizens 'is false.' He said the intelligence gathered by the U.S. is the type 'gathered by all nations' as part of their efforts to combat terrorism and other threats.

Meanwhile, Mexico is investigating allegations that Washington spied on President Enrique Pena Nieto before his election and on Felipe Calderon, his predecessor.

The German weekly Der Spiegel reported Sunday that the NSA began snooping on Mexican officials' emails beginning in May 2010.

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said Tuesday that he has ordered the investigation to see whether such spying took place and whether any Mexican officials were complicit.

Speaking in Geneva, Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jose Antonio Meade said U.S. President Barack Obama has promised Pena Nieto an investigation into Mexico's concerns as part of a broader examination of U.S. intelligence gathering.

The recent allegations in Le Monde and Der Spiegel came from secret documents leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who is currently living in Russia. The reports of NSA spying strained relations with otherwise staunch U.S. allies. Brazil's president canceled a state visit to Washington, the German government canceled a Cold War-era surveillance agreement, and the French government summoned U.S. Ambassador Charles Rivkin for answers.

Obama mentioned the wide-ranging review last month at the U.N. General Assembly in responding to concerns from other allies. Officials say that review is aimed at ensuring a balance between security and privacy concerns.

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