Senior French military officer arrested on suspicion of spying for a ‘foreign power’

French Defence Minister Florence Parly (C) on a visit to a military air base in Jordan on August 28, 2020.
French Defence Minister Florence Parly (C) on a visit to a military air base in Jordan on August 28, 2020. © AFP Photo / Ministère des Armées / Handout
2 min

French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said on Sunday that an investigation had been launched into a senior French officer who is suspected of being behind a “security breach”. According to French media and a judicial source, the officer is believed to have transmitted sensitive documents to a “foreign power”, possibly Russia.

Europe 1 radio reported that a French lieutenant colonel based in Italy and stationed with NATO is suspected of having transmitted sensitive documents to the Russian secret services.

qatar airways

Parly said her ministry had informed prosecutors about the case. She did not elaborate on what the officer was suspected of having done.

“What I can confirm is that a senior officer is facing legal proceedings for a security breach,” Florence Parly told Europe 1 radio, CNews and Les Echos newspaper.

“We have implemented all the necessary safeguards,” Parly said.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning

A judicial source later confirmed that a senior officer had been indicted 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” as well as “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.

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, according to Europe 1.

The official speaks Russian and was seen in Italy with a man identified as an agent of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service, Europe 1 reported.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)