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FYI: French to sue US and Britain over network of spies



French to sue US and Britain over network of spies


THE British and US Governments are to be sued in France after claims that
they have spied on French companies, diplomats and Cabinet ministers.
Lawyers are planning a class action after confirmation last week that a
global anglophone spy network exists.

Codenamed P-415 Echelon, the world's most powerful electronic spy system
was revealed in declassified US National Security Agency documents
published on the Internet, and is capable of intercepting telephone
conversations, faxes and e-mails.

The system was established in the 1980s by the UKUSA alliance, which unites
the British, American, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian secret
services. In Europe, its listening devices are at Menwith Hill defence base
in Yorkshire. French MPs claim to have evidence that the European Airbus
consortium lost a Fr35 billion (3.5 billion) contract in 1995 after its
offer was overheard and passed to Boeing. Georges Sarre, a left-wing MP,
said: "The participation of the United Kingdom in spying on its European
partners for and with the US raises serious and legitimate concerns in that
it creates a particularly acute conflict of interest within the European

The European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee will study a report on
the Echelon network on February 23. The debate is certain to fuel criticism
of Britain's role.