• France's news in English
 

'Spy for us or we won’t let you become French'

Published: 07 Mar 2014 16:16 GMT+01:00

Who's Anna?

There are lots of Anna's out there, but in this case, Anna, is a 19-year-old student in France, who was born in St Petersburg, Russia, and was in the process of gaining French citizenship

Why is she all over the news this week?

Well in short, she gave an interview to French newspaper Le Figaro, alleging that when she had her naturalisation interview with police, they asked her to spy on a splinter group of France’s right-wing anti-gay marriage movement, known as the "Manif pour Tous". If not they would effectively ruin her application for citizenship.

Tell me more.

Anna came to Yvelines, just west of Paris, in 2004 with her two parents, who had been granted permission to stay in France.  Having been in the country the required amount of time she decided to seek French citizenship.

As part of that process she had to be interviewed by a local official, and as occasionally happens, the police were also asked to check her out, apparently after she had mentioned she was interested in French politics and had attended a few protests. It was then things took an unexpected turn.

Don’t tell me, she was asked to be a spy.

Allegedly yes. According to Anna and a few sources that appear to have confirmed her story to French media. Basically the police line of questioning went as follows.

Police: “So you’re right wing, I presume? Have you been to the Manif Pour Tous protest? And what about your friends? What can you really bring to France?”

Then the commander allegedly threatened to “put an unfavourable opinion” on her file, unless she agreed to go along to a meeting of the “Veilleurs”, an ultra-conservative branch of the Manif pour Tous movement, and collect the names of the people who were there, members of the network and those that are circulating texts around. Police were particularly concerned about the movement as many of the protests had descended into violence and it appearedthat extremists had taken hold hold of the mainstream campaign against gay marriage.

At one point during the interview one of the officers even complemented Russia’s secret police, the KGB.

“I was shocked. I had the impression I was part of a gangster movie,” Anna told Le Figaro. “So I told them I would do it, I didn’t want to provoke them. They told me not to say anything to anyone, not even my parents. I had to say it was a normal meeting.”

What next? did she go through it?

According to her she didn’t. Instead she told her parents and her teachers at university and then local authorities and the leaders of the Manif pour Tous.

“At the beginning of October a girl, Anna, came to me in a state of great distress. She had the choice of denouncing her friends or face the prospect of being deported,” said François-Xavier Bellamy, deputy mayor of Versailles and supporter of the Manif Pour Tous.

So that’s that?

Not at all. We have not heard the last of this. Naturally the Manif Pour Tous leaders are up in arms and now that the blackmail allegations are out in the open, the Ministry of Interior has got involved. The government has asked France’s “police of police” or the General Inspectorate of National Police to get involved and investigate. Inspectors are due to report back as soon as possible.

And Anna?

No word yet on whether she has been granted citizenship. But can't imagine they will deny her it now.

Don't miss stories about France, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
French refugee thriller wins Cannes Palme d'Or
Jacques Audiard (C) poses with Sri Lankan actress Kalieaswari Srinivasan (L) and Sri Lankan actor Jesuthasan Antonythasan during a photocall after he was awarded with the Palme d'Or. Photo: AFP

French refugee thriller wins Cannes Palme d'Or

A French thriller spotlighting the plight of traumatised refugees building new lives, "Dheepan", captured the Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or top prize on Sunday. READ  

French man calls in bomb alert to delay plane
Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP

French man calls in bomb alert to delay plane

French police have arrested a man who called in a false bomb alert to an airport to delay his girlfriend's flight because she was in danger of missing it, prosecutors said on Sunday READ  

Cannes race wide open on eve of awards
Cate Blanchett in Cannes. Photo: Valery Haché/AFP

Cannes race wide open on eve of awards

The competition for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival wraps up Saturday with a clutch of favourites jockeying for one of global cinema's most coveted prizes. READ  

Waterloo: Why is it still taboo for the French?
A Waterloo reenactment. Photo: AFP

Waterloo: Why is it still taboo for the French?

France stood accused this week of "sulking" because it failed to nominate any high-ranking official to attend the gigantic commemoration for the 200-year anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. READ  

France's cheapest holiday spots revealed
Holidayers in Nice, southern France. Photo: AFP

France's cheapest holiday spots revealed

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Paris is the most expensive region in France to spend a summer holiday... but where is the cheapest? A new study has found the answer. READ  

France pulls up sunken tyres from artificial reefs
The tyres are hauled up from the seabed. Photo: AFP

France pulls up sunken tyres from artificial reefs

Tourists and film stars hitting the beach at the French Riviera resort of Cannes may be blissfully unaware but lurking beneath the sparkling waves are tens of thousands of now troublesome scrap tyres, sunk deliberately to boost marine development. READ  

French films
The best French films you've never heard of
French actor Tahar Rahim in a scene from A Prophet. Photo: YouTube/Screengrab

The best French films you've never heard of

With the Cannes Film Festival nearing its end and with everyone talking about everything film - we take a look back at the best ten French movies you've probably never heard of, thanks to French cinema expert Judith Prescott. READ  

Tourism in Paris
Eiffel Tower shuts as staff protest pickpockets
Tourists at the France's iconic Eiffel Tower. Photo: AFP

Eiffel Tower shuts as staff protest pickpockets

The Eiffel Tower was closed on Friday morning, as workers protested over the scourge of pickpockets around the famous monument, who they say have threatened and attacked them. READ  

Paris couple found in flat with throats slit
Photo: AFP

Paris couple found in flat with throats slit

A woman, who was reportedly pregnant, was found dead with her throat slit in a Paris apartment on Friday while her partner was left in a critical condition. An electric sander was found running beside their bodies. READ  

Cannes Film Festival
Sophie Marceau: Queen of baring all at Cannes
Sophie Marceau is a member of the Feature Film jury this year at Cannes. Photo: AFP

Sophie Marceau: Queen of baring all at Cannes

French actress Sophie Marceau is surely the undisputed queen of the Cannes wardrobe malfunction after her plunging jacket gave photographers more than an eyeful once again this week. And it's not the first time she's given the paparazzi palpitations. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Take a tour of the best Metro stations that Paris has to offer
National
Soon there'll be a fixed fare for a taxi ride from the airport into Paris
National
Drug dealers in Marseille are offering customers loyalty cards
Soon there'll be no minimum for using your bank card in France
Features
Eurovision is around the corner - and we don't fancy France's chances
Features
Fancy starting a business and living in Paris? There's help available
National
Are you fearing a Brexit? Maybe it's time to become a French citizen
How hard-up French are tempted by money to take migrants to the UK
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: 9 questions every expat should ask
Education
More English words (including 'le selfie') sneak into French
Charlie Hebdo to give €4.3m to attack victims
National
French Protestants bless gay marriage
Opinion
Why elitism is dragging France down
Features
RECIPE: How to make your own picnic-perfect meringues
Business & Money
French tax declaration deadline: Key things to remember
VIDEO: Can YOU pronounce the trickiest word in French?
France tops holiday wish list for children
National
Study: Women do bulk of housework in France
National
VIDEO: Police use force on Calais migrants
National
This man is France's Instagram king. But who else makes the top list?
Features
Free museum entry, film festivals, sports... see What's On this in May
Culture
Behind the curtain: A closer look at the Cannes Film Festival
National
It's a boy! Baby born on Air France flight to Paris
Features
Love-locked: Whatever happened to Paris's beautiful bridges?
'Forget the UK election, expats should be able to vote in France'
Thomas Piketty backs Miliband for Britain but not Hollande for France
Gallery
The most spectacular sunset pictures from around France
National
France tells migrants in Calais to 'forget the UK and stay here'
Who's to blame? Trial after Frenchman dies downing 56 shots
Society
VIDEO: See what's beneath the surface of the French Riviera
National
French teen suicide after sex video web bullying
France launches bid to buy Europe's biggest and most spectacular dune
Business & Money
Why May 2015 is the best month in years to work in France
Five great outdoor bars in Paris to check out this summer
Double standards? French Muslim barred from class over long skirt
National
France goes on the defensive after UN experts say 'racism is trivialised'
Five reasons we should be worried about France's new snooping laws
International
The French don't seem to care about the UK election and that's normal
Culture
Only in France? Naked comedian stuns French culture minister
Migrant camps spring up in the heart of Paris
International
France bags another fighter jet deal but should Paris thank the US?
Society
French elevator protocol: Greeting, flirting and yes, even sex
Travel
Getting from CDG airport to Paris by road should now be a lot quicker
Politics
Why all the dodgy ties? A French view of the UK general election
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se