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Senior French officer held on suspicion of spying for Russia

A senior French military officer stationed at a NATO base has been indicted and jailed on suspicion of spying for Russia, local media and sources said on Sunday.

Senior French officer held on suspicion of spying for Russia
A change of command ceremony at the base of NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance Force in Sigonella, Italy. It is not known at which Italian Nato base the officer was stationed. Photo: Falk Plankenhorn
The French army officer was stationed abroad, a judicial source said confirming details from Europe 1 radio. According to the report, the soldier was stationed on a NATO base in Italy and is suspected of espionage on behalf of Russia.
   
The French government confirmed it was investigating a senior military officer over a “security breach”.
   
“What I can confirm is that a senior officer is facing legal proceedings for a security breach,” Defence Minister Florence Parly told Europe 1 radio, CNews and Les Echos newspaper. She gave no further details.
   
The judicial source said the officer had been indicted and jailed on charges involving “intelligence with a foreign power that undermines the fundamental interests of the nation”.
   
He is being prosecuted for “delivering information to a foreign power”, “collecting information harming the fundamental interests of the nation with a view to delivering them to a foreign power” and “compromising the secrecy of national defence”, the source said.
 
   
Europe 1 said the officer was a lieutenant-colonel stationed with NATO in Italy and had been placed under investigation on suspicion of spying for Russia.
   
He speaks Russian and was seen in Italy with a man identified as an agent of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence
service, the report said. It said he is suspected of having supplied sensitive documents to Russian intelligence.
   
The man was arrested by DGSI intelligence service as he was about to leave for Italy at the end of his holidays in France, and is being held at a prison in Paris, Europe 1 said.

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SPYING

Senior French Senate official arrested over ‘spying for North Korea’

Intelligence agencies have arrested a senior French civil servant on suspicion of spying for North Korea, a judicial source in Paris said.

Senior French Senate official arrested over 'spying for North Korea'
Illustration photo of the French Senate. AFP

Benoit Quennedey, the president of the Franco-Korean Friendship Association who has a written book on the isolated nation, was placed in custody on Sunday.

The Paris prosecutor was investigating him over the “collection and delivery of information to a foreign power likely to undermine the fundamental interests of the nation”, said a judicial source on Monday.

Investigators from France's DGSI domestic intelligence agency are looking into whether Quennedey provided information to Pyongyang, the source said.

Daily television show Quotidien reported that his Senate office had been raided. The inquiry began in March.

According to the Senate website, Quennedey is a senior administrator in France's upper house of parliament in the department of architecture, heritage and gardens. 

He has written frequent articles on North Korea and travelled extensively throughout the peninsula, according to the website of his publisher Delga. 

The Franco-Korean Friendship Association pushes for closer ties with North Korea and supports the reunification of the divided Koreas.

North Korea under Kim Jong Un is under strict economic sanctions aimed at forcing the regime to abandon its nuclear missile programme.

Ties with the South and the United States have improved markedly since Kim and US President Donald Trump held a historic summit in Singapore in June but the US is still pushing to maintain sanctions until Pyongyang's “final, fully verified denuclearisation”.

In an interview posted on YouTube in August, Quennedey welcomed the easing of tensions.

The president of the Senate declined to comment to AFP.

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