US accuses Pasqua of lying over spy leak

Paris (Reuter) - A Franco-American spy row turned bitter yesterday when the US embassy accused the French Interior Minister, Charles Pasqua, of lying about who leaked news of the dispute.

Mr Pasqua alleged in a newspaper interview that "there were many leaks from the American side" over France's request to Washington to recall five Americans, including four diplomats, it accused of industrial and political espionage.

The US embassy hit back in a statement: "We categorically reject the allegation that we are responsible for the detailed and totally regrettable press leaks . . . This charge is neither true nor credible."

The embassy's unusual rebuttal was more reminiscent of Franco-Soviet Cold War rows than of relations between two allies - even though they have a history of divisions on issues ranging from Nato to Hollywood films.

The State Department in Washington has dismissed as "unwarranted" the charges of espionage by five people Paris suspects of working for the CIA.

The US said on Thursday that diplomats embroiled in the dispute would serve out their postings and accused Mr Pasqua of giving an "inaccurate and incomplete" account of his conversations with the ambassador, Pamela Harriman, which should have been protected by diplomatic confidentiality.

Mr Pasqua, already deep in trouble over a French phone-tapping dispute, said in an interview with Le Monde newspaper on a visit to Dakar in Senegal: "There was no desire on our part to publicise this. It was due to the delay by the United States in settling this affair."

Mr Pasqua said a crackdown on what he described as US agents trying to recruit French officials was also known to the prime minister's office and the Foreign Ministry, implying leaks may have come from them too.

He said he had asked Mrs Harriman to keep the affair quiet when first telling her in January that Paris had ample evidence against five US agents it wanted recalled.

The embassy retorted: "We scrupulously respected the confidentiality agreed on during ambassador Harriman's first meeting with minister Pasqua on January 26."

French Foreign Ministry sources have said they suspected the initial leaks came from Mr Pasqua's ministry. They believe the motive was to distract attention from the phone-tapping row which has dented the standing of Edouard Balladur, the Prime Minister, as front-runner in elections to succeed President Franois Mitterrand.

Many French politicians have condemned publicity over the spy row. Alain Jupp, the Foreign Minister, said he was "scandalised" and urged a government inquiry.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones