Did French train terror suspect slip through European security net?

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The man arrested after a thwarted attack on a train last Friday was known to intelligence agencies in several countries, including France. Yet Ayoub El-Khazzani, 25, was still able to board a busy Paris-bound train after acquiring an assault rifle and ammunition. Michel Deléan and Louise Fessard ask if European secret services again let a potential terrorist through the net – or whether surveillance on so many potential suspects is simply impossible.

The surprises in store for happy Hollande

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Hollande le 20 août. Hollande le 20 août.

While many of his opponents and rivals have begun losing ground, frought by party infighting, the horizon towards a re-election as French president in 2017 is now clearing for François Hollande. In a remarkable turnaround from the calamitous situation just 12 months ago, a drubbing for the long-unpopular president is no longer certain, and a new term in office has become plausible, even a certainty for some of his entourage. But, Mediapart editor François Bonnet argues here, that is to underestimate the political boomerang that represents the profound social crisis in France that marks his presidency, and the unprecedented and developing European crises he has failed to address.

French intelligence seeks vengeance on its tell-all former Q

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Maurice Dufresse, alias Pierre Siramy, s'est établi à Saint Lô. © DR Maurice Dufresse, alias Pierre Siramy, s'est établi à Saint Lô. © DR

Maurice Dufresse is a former head of the French foreign intelligence service’s technical support department - a sort of real-life Gallic equivalent to Ian Fleming’s fictional ‘Q Branch’ within Britain’s MI6. The publication five years ago of his book of anecdotes and analysis of his quarter of a century in French intelligence unleashed the wrath of his country’s spy chiefs, who accuse him of compromising national security. The final chapter in this battle for freedom of expression will be concluded in September. Karl Laske reports.

Behind the rise of telecom and media tycoon Patrick Drahi, emperor of easy money

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 © Reuters © Reuters

In just two years, Franco-Israeli businessman Patrick Drahi has turned a pedestrian French cable operation into a global telecoms empire, spending more than 40 billion euros on acquisitions, including France’s second-largest mobile operator, SFR. But behind the breathtaking sequence of deals, he has ratcheted up debt, riding on the wave of cheap money that followed the 2008 financial crisis, and now even ratings agency Moody's appears concerned. Martine Orange reports.

The migrant crisis in Ventimiglia, the 'new Calais' on the French-Italian border

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French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve and his British counterpart Theresa May met in Calais on Thursday to announce new joint security measures to prevent thousands of migrants in the Channel port from reaching England. While the desperate situation in Calais has become the focus of headlines, the similar, less-reported plight of growing numbers of migrants blocked at France’s south-eastern border with Italy now threatens to erupt into a major crisis. Louise Fessard reports from the Italian border town of Ventimiglia.

France’s ‘police of police’ whip up a storm on the Riviera

By Hélène Constanty
 © Reuters © Reuters

In 2013, the French police internal investigation agency, the IGPN, opened a branch in Nice, the capital of the French Riviera where an environment of organised crime, prostitution and drugs trafficking feeds accusations of corruption within the local police. But the actions of the IGPN branch, and notably the methods of its commander, have shaken the morale of officers and sparked an internal inquiry into what one drugs squad chief called “unspeakable and unjust procedures, bordering on harassment”. Hélène Constanty reports.