Controversial French former spy chief found dead in Paris

Yves BertrandBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The retired director of a now-defunct French intelligence agency, who was involved in several politically charged court cases in recent years, has been found dead in his Paris apartment. From 1992 to 2004, Yves Bertrand, headed the Direction Centrale des Renseignements Généraux (known widely as RG), the domestic intelligence service of the French police. Bertrand, who once described himself as “a minesweeper for the republic”, was a reclusive figure that zealously guarded his privacy and avoided any contact with the French media. In 2007, however, he was thrust into the public spotlight after he was involved in the so-called Clearstream Affair. The controversy centered on a list of names of European government officials who had allegedly received bribes in return for authorizing weapons deals with Taiwan. French investigators searched Bertrand’s Paris apartment and confiscated nearly two dozen volumes of his personal notebooks, in hopes of uncovering inside information linking the Clearstream affair with leading French politicians, including conservative frontrunner Nicolas Sarkozy. In 2008, numerous excerpts from Bertrand’s confiscated diaries found their way into the French press. They included embarrassing revelations about the lives of many French public figures, including politicians. Read more of this post

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French “trial of the century” continues with ex-spy’s testimony

Philippe Rondot

Philippe Rondot

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A complex court case in France, which the nation’s media have dubbed “trial of the century”, continued this week with the testimony of one of France’s most distinguished intelligence agents. Retired General Philippe Rondot, who worked for France’s domestic (DST) and foreign intelligence (DGSE), and advised several French leaders, gained international fame in 1994, when he managed to arrest Venezuelan-born operative Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as Carlos the Jackal. General Rondot was called earlier this week to testify whether France’s former Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, helped forge a series of documents showing that France’s current President, Nicolas Sarkozy, had laundered millions of dollars in defense contract bribes through secret accounts in Luxembourg’s Clearstream bank. Mr. de Villepin will face up to five years in prison if found guilty of the forgery. Read more of this post

Spy chief’s records feature prominently in France’s “trial of the century”

Yves Bertrand

Yves Bertrand

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A five-year court case described in France as “the trial of the century” or “France’s Watergate” resumed on Monday with the appearance in court of one of five defendants, who is no other than France’s former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. He is accused of forging a series of documents showing that France’s current President, Nicolas Sarkozy, had laundered millions of dollars in defense contract bribes through secret accounts in Luxembourg’s Clearstream bank. At the center of the trial is the adversary relationship between Mr. de Villepin, who was former French President Jacques Chirac’s preferred successor, and Nicolas Sarkozy. Mr. Sarkozy accuses Mr. de Villepin of ordering an intelligence investigation into his financial dealings in order to ruin his reputation and score a political victory. Read more of this post

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