Six Russian agents who had been operating in France “under diplomatic cover” are being expelled from the country after an inquiry uncovered espionage activities.
The foreign ministry said in a statement that the agents’ “activities were found to be contrary to our national interests,” meaning that they have been “declared personae non gratae.”
This came as the result of a “very long inquiry” carried out by the Direction générale de la sécurité intérieure (DGSI) intelligence service, but the statement did not add any details on the nature of the clandestine operation.
Franceinfo has however reported that the case could possibly relate to a Russian agent who entered into contact with the French person to buy information. It may therefore have been this French citizen who alerted the secret services.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin: “[A] remarkable counterintelligence operation. Bravo to the DGSI agents which intercepted a network of clandestine Russian agents who were working against our interests.
“The agents involved must now leave the country. In the background, the DGSI is looking after our foundational interests.”
Remarquable opération de contre-espionnage. Bravo aux agents de la DGSI qui ont entravé un réseau d'agents clandestins russes qui œuvraient contre nos intérêts. Les agents impliqués devront quitter le territoire national. Dans l'ombre, la DGSI veille sur nos intérêts fondamentaux— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) April 11, 2022
France had already announced on April 4 that it was expelling 35 Russian diplomats in a joint EU action carried out in response to images of atrocities allegedly committed by Russian troops in Bucha (Ukraine).
France has also summoned its Russian ambassador in recent weeks over statements he posted on the embassy’s official Twitter account.