• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

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

Ben McPartland · 7 Mar 2014, 16:16

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.

Story continues below…

“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.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France faces same big questions after latest attack
Photo: AFP

The latest terror attack has left France facing similar questions to those it has tackled numerous times since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January last year. So how will France react?

Muslim leaders denounce attack on French church
CFCM President Anouar Kbibech in front of the Grande Mosque in Paris, June 2015. Photo: AFP

France's Muslim leaders have denounced Tuesday's apparent terror attack at a church, and called for the country's Muslims to band together in support.

French workers 'pay the most taxes in Europe'
Photo: AFP

From tomorrow the French will be the only workers in Europe still handing over money to the taxman.

Church mourns loss of slain 86-year-old French priest
Photo: AFP

Father Jacques Hamel could have retired at 75 but believed he could still be of service so carried on.

What we know about the attack on the French church
Photo: AFP

A priest was killed after armed men took over a church in northern France, before they too were killed by police. Here is what we know.

A timeline of terror in France since Charlie Hebdo
Police officers near the Bataclan concert hall in Paris on November 13th, 2015. Photo: AFP

Here is a recap of major assaults and foiled attempts since the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris in January 2015.

Isis claims priest's killing as Hollande vows all-out war
Photo: AFP

Terror group Isis has said its soldiers were behind the killing of a French priest at his church on Tuesday as President François Hollande vows to wage war against them "by every means".

France has long feared terror would strike its churches
Notre Dame is one place of worship that soldiers are asked to protect. Photo: AFP

France's long-standing fears that its churches would be targeted by terrorists were realized on Tuesday. But can the government do anything to protect them?

BREAKING
Priest slain in 'terror attack' on church in northern France
Photo: AFP

UPDATED: Two men armed with knives killed a priest after taking several people hostage at a French church, before they were shot dead by police.

One dead after violent clashes in Calais migrant camp
The "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais. Photo: AFP

An Ethiopian has died after he was stabbed in the chest during clashes at the Calais migrant camp.

Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
A timeline of terror in France since Charlie Hebdo
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
A timeline of terror in France since Charlie Hebdo
Culture
Thirteen free and easy ways to learn French
Culture
32 mistakes foreigners make when they arrive in France
National
Here are the worst scams to avoid whilst driving in France
Analysis & Opinion
Isis can simply be a conduit for the violent desires of psychopaths
Features
Six outdoor bars in Paris you simply must visit
Culture
The open-air Villette cinema has been cancelled over security fears
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Culture
Henri Rousseau exhibition proves huge hit in Paris
National
Frenchman caught trying to sell Nice massacre souvenirs online
Society
OPEN NOW: Here's why you should head to the Paris Plages
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Culture
What's on in France: Still plenty to see and do in July
Lifestyle
Treasures of Versailles to go on display in Australia
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Nice attack: What we know so far
National
Nice attacker: Body-building, drug-taking, violent flirt
National
IN IMAGES: Drawings in tribute to Nice attack victims
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Promenade des Anglais: The iconic heart of the French Riviera
France faces more questions after latest deadly attack
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Why is France the target of choice for jihadist attacks?
National
Nice truck attack: 'Bodies went flying like bowling pins'
Nice attack: Families of missing make pleas on Twitter
Politics
Boris Johnson cheered and booed at Bastille Day party
2,769
jobs available