“Two French agents in our service and probably one of the spouses of these agents are accused of serious acts likely to be considered acts of treason, on suspicions of delivering information to a foreign power. (…) The compromised information could undermine the security of the state.”
Florence Parly — French Armed Forces Minister (May 24 2018)
“They are trying to learn what other powers intend to do in terms of politics, diplomacy, etcetera, while of course continuing their hunt for economic information.”
Alain Chouet — Former head of intelligence and security at the DGSE
“Contrary to other Western Intelligence Services, the DGSE masters all the intelligence collecting methods: human sources (HUMINT), technical sensors (SIGINT and satellite imagery), operational means and open-source processing. Intelligence collected through collaboration with other Services, national and foreign, is positively increasing.”
DGSE : Who we are?
Two ex-DGSE agents are suspected of “extremely serious” treason on behalf of a foreign power, widely believed to be China. Speaking from Moscow, French President Emmanuel Macron called the alleged conspiracy “extremely serious”. Prosecutors have requested the declassification of DGSE documents dating from July 6, 2016, to April 19, 2017, suggesting the agents may have been compromised for months. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today
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The Russian Intelligence Agencies have their “moles”. Their Western counterparts have “sleeper agents”.
And the Chinese have their “chen diyu” — “fish swimming in deep water” — as the French are painfully learning now.
The ex French spies, along with the spouse of one of the accused, were arrested in December 2017.
At least one of the suspects was working for the DGSE in Beijing when the alleged spying was discovered.
They are facing trial for treason over allegations that they passed state secrets to a foreign power, Florence Parly — French Armed Forces Minister — said.
“France has partners but we live in a dangerous world, and unfortunately these types of things can happen.”
“These acts of extreme gravity have been detected by this service, which has brought these facts to its knowledge to the Paris prosecutor.”
France’s domestic intelligence service — the General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI) — first discovered the suspected double agents, before alerting the defense ministry, which began its own investigations.
“These revelations are a major area of focus for the DGSE as well all French counter-intelligence services,” the DGSE said in a statement.
‘Fish in deep water’
According to French researcher Philippe Marvalin, writing in the “Dictionary of Intelligence” published in March, China has 18 spy agencies employing some 7,000 people handling 50,000 agents known as “chen diyu”, or “fish swimming in deep water”.
“The US is their main target, and in Europe they are especially active in France, Britain, the Netherlands and Germany,” he wrote.
Another former spy chief, who insisted on anonymity, told AFP that Beijing has sent agents to all corners of French industry, including attractive students to French universities who can be used to entrap targets.
“You meet someone here or there: It’s quiet infiltration, nothing dramatic. It’s not like the movies,” he said.
Francois-Yves Damon, a China specialist and historian who consulted for the DGSE, recalls surprising a Chinese student at the elite ENA school, which produces France’s top public servants, photocopying huge piles of documentation.
“Anything he could get his hands on!” Damon told AFP.
“Knowing the capacity of China’s secret services, seeing two former DGSE agents caught and imprisoned doesn’t surprise me a bit,” he said.
Communiqué de presse du ministère des Armées (25/05/2018)
“Le ministère des Armées confirme que deux de ses anciens personnels et la conjointe de l’un d’entre eux ont été déférés devant le juge d’instruction, pour des faits susceptibles de constituer les crimes et délits de trahison par livraison d’informations à une puissance étrangère, provocation au crime de trahison et atteinte au secret de la défense nationale.
Les agents concernés, à la retraite, ont appartenu dans le passé à la DGSE. Ces agissements d’une extrême gravité ont été détectés par ce service qui a porté à sa propre initiative ces faits à la connaissance du procureur de Paris, sur le fondement de l’article 40 du code de procédure pénale.
Les personnes poursuivies doivent désormais répondre devant la justice de ces faits, qui constituent un point d’attention majeur pour la DGSE comme pour tous les services de contre-espionnage français, qui font preuve d’une très grande vigilance dans la détection et l’entrave de ces menaces.”
DGSE — Official Website
France — Chinese Moles Inside the DGSE?