France Detains Senior Military Officer Suspected of Spying for Russia

A senior French military officer stationed at a NATO base has been indicted and jailed on suspicion of spying for Russia, local media and sources said on Sunday.

The French army officer was stationed abroad, a judicial source said confirming details from Europe 1 radio. According to the report, the soldier was stationed on a NATO base in Italy and is suspected of espionage on behalf of Russia.

The French government confirmed it was investigating a senior military officer over a “security breach”.

“What I can confirm is that a senior officer is facing legal proceedings for a security breach,” Defence Minister Florence Parly told Europe 1 radio, CNews and Les Echos newspaper.

She gave no further details.

The judicial source said the officer had been indicted and jailed on charges involving “intelligence with a foreign power that undermines the fundamental interests of the nation”.

He is being prosecuted for “delivering information to a foreign power”, “collecting information harming the fundamental interests of the nation with a view to delivering them to a foreign power” and “compromising the secrecy of national defense”, the source said.

Europe 1 said the officer was a lieutenant-colonel stationed with NATO in Italy and had been placed under investigation on suspicion of spying for Russia.

He speaks Russian and was seen in Italy with a man identified as an agent of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service, the report said.

It said he is suspected of having supplied sensitive documents to Russian intelligence.

The man was arrested by DGSI intelligence service as he was about to leave for Italy at the end of his holidays in France, and is being held at a prison in Paris, Europe 1 said.

France ‘Very Worried’ Over Belarus Election Violence, Macron Tells Putin

France is very worried by the violence in Belarus after the weekend’s elections in the ex-Soviet state, French President Emmanuel Macron said in telephone talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

Macron told Putin he is “very worried about the situation in Belarus and the violence that citizens have faced during the elections,” the Elysee said in a statement.

“He emphasized the need to find again the path of dialogue.”

The talks, which also touched on the coronavirus crisis and the situation in Lebanon after the gigantic port explosion last week, were the latest in a string of regular contacts between Macron and Putin.

In a position that has sometimes put him at odds with EU allies, Macron has pursued a policy of dialogue with Russia, even on issues where the two sides disagree.

Protesters in Belarus have rallied on successive nights to contest strongman President Alexander Lukashenko’s claim of having won Sunday’s election in a landslide.

The EU and U.S. have strongly condemned the ensuing crackdown that has seen hundreds detained in often brutal circumstances.

Putin, along with Chinese President Xi Jinping, was one of the few key world leaders to congratulate Lukashenko after the poll.

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