• 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
New app aims to rid Paris pavements of dog poo
Photo: ByeBye Crottoir

No need to watch your step anymore, says this French engineer behind a new app called "Bye Bye Pavement Dog Poo"

Calls in France for English to be ditched as EU language
Photo: AFP

Some in France suggest it's time to end the dominance of English as the EU's working language, now that the UK has voted to leave the union.

Seven tips for selling your house in France
Photo: AFP

After the Brexit referendum there is already talk of British expats in France considering selling up. Here are seven tips put together by an expert.

British businesses in France told to keep calm and carry on
Brits celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday at the British embassy in Paris. Photo: UK in France/Flickr

Brits running their own businesses have been told that despite the Brexit vote, it should be "business as usual".

Paris thieves pilfer luxury watches worth €3 million
Photo: AFP

Another multi-million robbery in the chic heart of Paris.

Price of Paris monthly transport pass to rise
Photo: AFP

Commuting in Paris is set to get pricier.

Opinion - Brexit
Why a Brexit would be a 'windfall' for France
Photo: AFP

A Brexit wouldn't mean the "apocalypse" the doomsdayers are predicting, it would actually be a "tremendous opportunity" for France.

Post Brexit: Paris and London vow to cooperate not compete
Sadiq Khan and Anne Hidalgo vow to work together. Photo: AFP

The mayors of Paris and London have vowed to work together in order to shape the 21st century.

Voters give green light to new airport in western France
Photo: AFP

Will this finally mark the end of years of wrangling and protests?

'We can handle Brexit' insist Hollande and Merkel
Photo: AFP

France and Germany say they are on the same page when it comes to handling the fallout of last week's shock Brexit vote.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit
National
How Brexit could now scupper that dream move to France
Brexit limbo: What happens next for Brits in France?
Gallery
Ten reasons why you should think about becoming French
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Analysis & Opinion
Brexit: Life for Brits in France 'will get more complicated'
Culture
20 English words that 'should be banished' from French
National
Best Briehaviour: A guide to French cheese etiquette
Features
And the best city in France for expats to live in is...?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Forget bikes, Paris is set to roll out scooter rentals
National
'We fear for our safety': French police feel the strain
Lifestyle
Why Rennes (and not Paris) is the best city in France for expats to live
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Why are the French losing appetite for baguettes?
Lifestyle
Naturism booms in France as young eager to ditch clothes
Lifestyle
Is working life better in London or Paris?
National
Dear Americans: Please come to Paris
National
It's official (kind of): French work fewest hours in EU
And the best football fans of Euro 2016 in France are?
National
Paris has wettest spring in 100 years and it's hitting morale
Police murders remind France of complexity of terror threat
National
IN PICTURES: Labour law protests in Paris turn ugly
National
Double murder just latest jihadist attack on French police and soldiers
International
French police appear unprepared for hooligan threat at Euro 2016
Sport
An A to Z guide of what to expect in France for Euro 2016
2,726
jobs available