File Photo - US Ambassador to France Charles H. Rivkin (Photo credit: Thomas Bregardis/AFP/Getty Images)
By Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY
The United States' ambassador to France Charles H. Rivkin has been summoned by the French foreign minister following claims made by the Le Monde newspaper group Monday that the National Security Agency spied on millions of French citizens.
Le Monde made the allegations it said based on documents it secured from the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters at a European Union foreign ministers meeting that the ambassador has been asked to go to the foreign ministry in Paris "immediately" to explain the allegations.
According to the report, which was co-authored by the ex-Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, over a 30-day period between December last year and January 2013 the NSA's top-secret "US-985D" program intercepted data on over 70 million phone calls made in France.
"When a telephone number is used in France, it activates a signal which automatically triggers the recording of the call. Apparently this surveillance system also picks up SMS messages and their content using key words," the French newspaper reported, explaining how the NSA collects the information.
It was not immediately clear from the report how or whether the use of what Le Mondetermed the NSA's "recording" of calls differs from the NSA's collection of meta-data, although the report said that meta-data on calls was also collected.
Le Monde said that when it presented its evidence to authorities in the U.S. no comment was offered.
France's Interior Minister Manuel Vallas was said to have described the revelations as "shocking."
On Sunday, a report by the German news magazine Der Spiegel, also based on documents leaked by Snowden, said that the U.S. had infiltrated the e-mail system of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon. The Mexican government vowed to send what the Associated Press called a "diplomatic note" to the Washington as a result.