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US ‘spied’ on Nicolas Sarkozy presidency

France’s cyber-warfare agency believes that a computer virus found in the Elysee Palace in Paris was similar to Flame, which was allegedly created by a US-Israeli team.

It is thought to have been used on computers of Sarkozy aides including Xavier Musca, his chief of staff during the May presidential election which Mr Sarkozy lost to Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande.

An alleged attack by the virus took place in May, after the United Nations had issued an urgent warning to guard against the Flame virus.

The sophisticated spyware , which is one of the most powerful bugs in history and around 100 times the size of most malicious software – was purpose built to hack into computers in Iran for details of the country’s nuclear programme .

The Trojan bug worms its way into computer systems and turns infected machines into listening devices.

Experts said Flame contained about 20 times as much code as Stuxnet, which attacked a Iranian uranium enrichment facility in 2010, causing centrifuges to fail.

As well as famously opposing the Iraq War in 2003, France has often stepped out of line with American policy.

Mr Sarkozy last year had to rely on British Prime Minister David Cameron to push through a United Nations resolution sanctioning the bombing of Libya.

The attacks ultimately led to the murder of Colonel Gaddafi – an outcome which America had been lukewarm about while Sarkozy was demanding action.

Janet Napolitano, US Secretary of Homeland Security, did not deny the Elysee Palace hacking allegations, but said: “We have no greater partner than France, we have no greater ally than France.

“We co-operate in many security-related areas. I am here to further reinforce those ties and create new ones.’

In the interview with l’Express, Ms Napolitano insisted Flame and Stuxnet viruses had “never been linked to the US government.”

A French government source told l’Express magazine: “You can be on very good terms with a “friendly” country and still want to guarantee their unwavering support – especially during a transition (of power).”

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