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RUSSIA

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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NATO

Swedish MPs to vote next week on beefing up anti-terror laws

Sweden's parliament said Tuesday it would vote next week on a constitutional amendment that would make it possible to beef up anti-terror laws, a key demand from Turkey to approve Stockholm's Nato membership bid.

Swedish MPs to vote next week on beefing up anti-terror laws

The proposed amendment would make it possible to introduce new laws to “limit freedom of association of groups involved in terrorism”, parliament said in a statement.

Parliament’s announcement of the upcoming vote followed Tuesday’s visit to Ankara by Sweden’s new Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, where he met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

After Russia invaded Ukraine, Sweden and Finland abandoned their long-held policy of non-alignment and applied to join the military alliance.

But Turkey has blocked Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership applications, accusing Stockholm in particular of being a haven for “terrorists”.

The vote is scheduled for November 16 and the change is expected to enter into force on January 1, according to parliament’s standing committee on constitutional affairs, which recommended MPs approve the proposal.

Experts have said new legislation would make it easier to prosecute members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), blacklisted by Ankara and most of its Western allies.

In Sweden, a constitutional amendment must be approved by two separate parliaments, with a general election held in between. The first vote was approved under Sweden’s previous left-wing government. Kristersson — who won Sweden’s September 11 general election — described the constitutional amendment as a “big step”.

“Sweden will take big steps by the end of the year and early next year that will give Swedish legal authorities more muscles to fight terrorism”, he said. Only the formerly communist Left Party has expressed opposition to the change.

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