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France

Former French intelligence agents suspected of spying ‘for China’

Two ex-spies charged with giving information to a foreign power while a third person faces prosecution for allegedly covering up ‘treasonable crimes’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 May, 2018, 1:38pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 May, 2018, 11:04pm

Two former French intelligence agents have been charged with passing intelligence to a “foreign power”, the government said on Thursday, with French media reporting the country as China.

The two now-retired General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) agents, and the wife of one of them, were being prosecuted for “acts of extreme gravity”, the armed forces ministry said in a statement.

They were charged on December 22 and two of them had since been held in custody, a judicial source said.

DGSE is France’s foreign intelligence agency, similar to Britain’s MI6 or the United States’ CIA.

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The Quotidien television programme and the Le Monde daily reported four people were suspected of having been recruited by the Chinese authorities to spy on French foreign intelligence.

Neither the armed forces ministry nor the judicial source gave the name of the other country. There were also no details on the length of time or nature of information passed over.

One of the agents was stationed in Beijing, Quotidien reported.

The judicial source said two of the three suspects were being prosecuted for “delivering to a foreign power information that undermines the fundamental interests of the nation” and “compromising the secrecy of national defence”.

“One of them has also been charged for direct provocation to the crime of treason,” the source added.

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The third person – believed to be the wife – has been charged with “concealment of treasonable crimes” and placed under judicial control, meaning they are subject to certain constraints pending trial, according to the same source.

The armed forces ministry said: “These acts of extreme gravity have been detected by this service, which has brought these facts to its knowledge to the Paris prosecutor.”