James Clapper
James ClapperReuters

US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has denied reports that US spies recorded data from 70 million phone calls in France in a single 30-day period.

"Recent articles published in the French newspaper Le Monde contain inaccurate and misleading information regarding US foreign intelligence activities," Clapper said in a statement released on Tuesday.

"The allegation that the National Security Agency collected more than 70 million 'recordings of French citizens' telephone data' is false," said the statement. Clapper said he would not discuss details of surveillance activities, but acknowledged "the United States gathers intelligence of the type gathered by all nations".

Le Monde has claimed In a separate story, that US National Security Agency (NSA) programs bugged French diplomats in Washington and at the UN and used the information to sway a key UN vote.

Both reports were allegedly based on leaks from fugitive ex-US intelligence worker Edward Snowden.

Clapper's statement did not refer to the second allegation, about the NSA allegedly monitoring French diplomats at the UN and in Washington.

Those claims were first published in the German magazine Der Spiegel and the Washington Post in early September. Le Monde's story adds that the intelligence gathered from French diplomats helped the US sway a Security Council vote on a resolution imposing new sanctions on Iran on June 9, 2010.

The US had apparently feared losing the vote, and needed French support. A leaked NSA document quotes America's former UN envoy Susan Rice as saying the NSA's information helped the US "keep one step ahead in the negotiations".