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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Turkey publishes demands for backing Sweden’s Nato membership

Turkey’s government has demanded "concrete assurances" that Sweden will stop backing groups it regards as terrorist, as it lays out its price for backing Swedish Nato membership.

Turkey publishes demands for backing Sweden's Nato membership

“Sweden, which has applied for membership, is expected to take principled steps and provide concrete assurances regarding Turkey’s security concerns,” the Turkish government wrote in a statement, published in English on its website. “Under the collective security principle of Nato, Turkey expects concrete assurances from Sweden, which supports terrorist organisations.” 

The statement refers to the “PKK/PYD”, conflating the PYD, the party which runs the Kurdish region in northern Syria, with the PKK, which is designated a terrorist organisation by Sweden, as well as by the EU and the US.

It also highlights the $367m Sweden has promised in support of the PYD, accuses Sweden of supplying military equipment, particularly anti-tanks and drones, to Kurdish forces in northern Syria, and criticises the arms embargo Sweden imposed on Turkey in 2019. 

READ ALSO: Could Turkey block Sweden from Nato membership?

“Turkey expects support from all Nato member states in its legitimate rights based on international law and in its fight against terrorism for decades,” the statement reads. “The embargo practices are against the spirit of the alliance.”

Finally, the statement reiterates a call made in 2017 for Sweden to extradite “terrorists” linked to PKK/PYD and FETO (Fethullahist Terrorist Organisation), the Turkish government’s designation for the Gülen movement.

The Turkish government’s directorate of communications published a version of the demands on social media, laid out as five bullet points, and translated into eleven languages, including Russian. 

The Turkish government posted a five-point statement of its stance on Nato membership in eleven languages on social media. Photo: Turkish government