After his release, a French army officer wants to prove that he did not spy for Russia

The soldier was arrested in August 2020 in France, and he “categorically denied that he was recruited by Russian intelligence” and provided information “harmful to the basic interests of the nation.”

Meeting with a Russian agent in Italy and many questions: against the background of the war in Ukraine, a French officer in the summer of 2020 was convicted of “treason” and released since then wants to prove that he did not spy for Moscow.

On September 28, 2019, in Stresa, on the shores of the posh Lake Maggiore, in northwestern Italy, Italian domestic intelligence photographed a French lieutenant colonel, stationed in Naples for NATO, discussing with Yuri A, a Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer.

suspicious movements

According to elements of whom AFP learned, after several months of secret French surveillance, the Directorate of Intelligence and Defense Security reported the facts to justice after the others.Movements considered suspiciousIn France, Italy and Switzerland: L. was arrested. , 54 years old, on August 17, 2020 in France. In police custody at the PSD, the soldier deniesDefinitely they were recruited by Russian intelligence“, referring to residence”touristin Stresa.

When confronted with pictures of Italian surveillance with Iouri A., he first evokes the opportunity to meet a foreigner and have a discussion in English. During a new test, he admitted to interchanging the Russian language and opposing questions from vague memories. During his introduction to the investigating judge, “L” preserved the unexpected nature of the meeting, denying that he initially knew his interlocutor from the GRU.

suspected of havingshow screenFrom computer to Russian, the Lieutenant Colonel describes himself aspassiveDuring this two-and-a-half-hour exchange, he denies handing over any documents. However, it is under investigation, particularly because of “Delivering information to a foreign power that harms the fundamental interests of the nation‘, subject to fifteen years of criminal detention, and then imprisoned.

summoned to. To appear before the investigating judge at the end of January 2021, he gave his version of Yuri A’s suggestion: “We know you, we know who you are, we know where you work, and we would like you to send (…) things that affect Russia“. L. says he understands that he is a Russian agent and admits that he did not express any disagreement, emphasizing that “internally [il était] in refusing to do soThe officer notes that he kept the phone and USB keys given by Iori A at his home in Italy.without using itExcept for the phone that turned on once.

He asserts that between the meeting of Stresa and his arrest in August 2020, he tried unsuccessfully “reveal these thingsTo two colleagues from DRSD. “I am fully aware that I may be reprimanded for not immediately reporting this incident.‘, as he wrote to the judge,I considered that it would remain unfollowed, thus I wanted to avoid stormy conditions“.

see also Why did the war in Ukraine cost the head of French military intelligence his job?

Frustration associated with the “inadequate use” of his Russian phony

Justice summarizes his questions: L.He could have been approached, without anyone understanding why, by a Russian officer who would have offered work to this country, a proposal he would have accepted passively in the moment of turmoil.“.

Since August 2020, the investigation has been enriched by dozens of witness hearings, the exploitation of computers, phones and USB keys or the discovery of secret notes in L. His career and personality are also dissected: influenced by the past in a Central Asian country, where he is told of his supposed adoration for Russians as well to his potential frustration with the inadequate use of his Russian tones.

Declassified notes from the DRSD Department of Human Rights are also added to the file, with denial comments: Before going to court, this service was excluded “having a link»Between L. and Iouri A. (15 June 2020) or«with Russian services(June 17, 2020). “No compromise of confidential information has been provenDRSD is still decided on June 10.

The man denies “betraying the interests of his country”.

A source familiar with the matter, confirmed by a judicial source, indicated that he was placed under an electronic bracelet in August, and released in early 2022 under judicial supervision. At the request of Agence France-Presse, his lawyer, Antoine Bouker, did not do my bidding.rejoice“:”Our client has always strongly objected to his betrayal of his country’s interestsThey say. According to them, “Investigations conducted over two and a half years confirm our conviction that “L” is innocent and that he did not provide any information to Russia“.

How to ease the burden on their clients? The geopolitical context is unfavorable with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and diplomatic tension marked by the recent expulsion of 200 diplomats from Moscow from Europe, including 6 others from France on Monday.

In August 2020, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parley revealed the issue over the radio, claiming that “All necessary safeguards have been takenAsked by AFP, his ministry has not commented.

see also – War in Ukraine: ‘Russian soldiers refuse to obey orders’, says head of British spy agency

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