20 June 2013

French spy chief hit with snooping charge

Bernard Squarcini, the former French domestic spy chief, has been indicted for ordering the capture of phone records belonging to a journalist investigating alleged illegal party funding involving former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

By James Barnes

Spy chief caught in snooping scandal

The Financial Times reports that the fresh scandal is the latest in a series of legal actions surrounding Mr Sarkozy and people close to him.

Election funding

The former president was himself under formal investigation earlier in the year for allegedly taking advantage of Liliane Bettencourt - the 90-year-old billionaire heiress to the L’Oréal cosmetics fortune - by soliciting undeclared election funding from her in 2007 before his victorious campaign that year.
He denies the allegations and is seeking to have the case dismissed.

National interest

However it has now come to light that Mr Squarcini had demanded the phone records of a journalist for Le Monde during the time Mr Sarkozy was allegedly seeking funds from Ms Bettencourt.
Mr Squarcini has argued that his actions were legal and in defence of the national interest. However, a spokeswoman for the Paris Court said investigating judges had sent him for trial charged with ‘the collection of personal data by fraudulent, unfair or illicit means’, which carries a possible jail term of up to five years and a fine of €300,000.

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