Spies 'targeted Le Monde to protect Sarkozy'

 

Paris

The French security services broke the law on the orders of Élysée Palace last summer to try to halt a series of politically embarrassing leaks, it was alleged yesterday.

The centre-left newspaper Le Monde said that it had proof it was the victim of a full-blown "state scandal": the misuse of the counter-intelligence services to trample laws on press freedom to protect the "private interests" of President Nicolas Sarkozy and his party.

The accusation came on the same day that a book claimed Mr Sarkozy accepted illegal campaign contributions in cash from France's wealthiest woman in 2007. The claims are deeply intertwined. Both form part of the "Bettencourt affair", a political-financial soap opera that gripped France last summer and now threatens to destabilise Mr Sarkozy in the run-up to next spring's presidential election.

Almost a year ago Le Monde took the unusual step of bringing a criminal complaint against "persons unknown" for breaking a relatively new law that guarantees the privacy of journalistic sources. Le Monde accused the French security service, the Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur (DCRI), of illegally obtaining the phone records of a reporter, Gérard Davet.

The Sarkozy government dismissed the allegation, saying that it has merely sought to identify a mole who was leaking sensitive information from within the Justice Ministry. "The DCRI is not the Stasi," the ex-interior minister Brice Hortefeux said at the time. "Its job is not to harass journalists."

The newspaper reported yesterday that its own version of what was dubbed "Sarkogate" or "Mondegate" had proved to be correct. "We now know that the government lied," the newspaper said in a front-page editorial.

An investigation by an independent examining magistrate, Sylvia Zimmerman, has uncovered documents sent by the DCRI to the telephone operator Orange requisitioning records of the calls made or received by Mr Davet, in the period between 12 and 16 July last year. Such requisitions are supposed to be used only when state security is threatened.

Mr Davet was the author of a series of articles in Le Monde – including one on 19 July 2010 – which revealed politically embarrassing aspects of the Bettencourt affair. He is also the co-author of the book published yesterday, Sarko m'a tuer (Sarko killed me), in which a judge, Isabelle Prévost-Desprez, says that she received off-the-record, eye-witness evidence that Mr Sarkozy had accepted an illegal campaign contribution from the L'Oréal heiress, Liliane Bettencourt, 88, in 2007. The Bettencourt affair began as a family quarrel over money between the billionairess and her only child, Françoise Meyers-Bettencourt. This aspect of the affair has now been settled out of court.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Recruitment Genius: External Relations Executive

£33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An External Relations Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This established Digital Agency based in East ...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links