President Nicolas Sarkozy personally supervises a team of security agents which spies on troublesome French journalists, it was claimed yesterday. The claim – dismissed by the Elysée Palace as “utterly ridiculous” – follows a high-profile law suit brought in September by France’s most prestigious newspaper and a series of burglaries in recent weeks at the homes or offices of investigative reporters.
According to the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné, President Sarkozy regularly orders the boss of France’s internal security service to investigate and uncover the sources of any journalist who writes stories which embarrass the government. A team of agents within the Division Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur (DCRI) – the French equivalent of MI5 and Special Branch – has been created to lead the investigations, the newspaper said.
Le Canard said that “since the start of the year” the President had “personally” intervened on several occasions with the head of the DCRI, Bernard Squarcini, a Sarkozy appointment and loyalist. Whenever the President saw an investigative article which “embarrassed him or his friends”, he ordered the journalist to be placed “under surveillance”, the newspaper said.