'Is he loyal to us?': phone tap shows ex-president Sarkozy's doubts over current French spy chief

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Mediapart can disclose the content of more phone taps concerning former president Nicolas Sarkozy that show how he and his entourage have sought to glean information on the state of judicial probes from senior state officials. One conversation reveals that the ex-head of state was worried about the “loyalty” of the new head of France's domestic intelligence service, from whom he was trying to extract key details. Judges investigating the Libyan funding of Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign also believe they may have uncovered the identity of one of the former president's “moles” in the intelligence services. As Fabrice Arfi reports, the revelations provide further evidence about how far Nicolas Sarkozy and his aides seem willing to go in order to find out how judicial investigations are progressing.

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The contents of judicial phone taps on Nicolas Sarkozy show his concern about the lack of cooperation he received from France's new spy chief last year over the judicial investigation into the funding of the former president's election campaign by Libya in 2007. The transcripts of the phone taps, obtained by Mediapart, record his attempts to get information about the probe from Patrick Calvar, director of the Direction Centrale du Renseignement intérieur (DCRI), France's domestic intelligence agency. Worried about Calvar's apparent reluctance to divulge details on the subject, Sarkozy asks a close aide: “But is he loyal to us?”

Mediapart can also reveal that the judges investigating the funding by Muammar Gaddafi's regime of the former president's 2007 campaign have identified a potential Sarkozy “mole” in the intelligence services. They are examining, too, the possible role of a senior executive at aerospace group EADS (now the Airbus Group) in supplying information concerning the investigation to Sarkozy's entourage.

These latest revelations concern eight phone calls and two SMS messages that were intercepted in the summer of 2013 and the content of which has been examined by police officers from the newly-formed anti-corruption unit the Office central de lutte contre la corruption. At 2.44pm on June 21st 2013, Sarkozy's chief of staff Michel Gaudin, a former head or 'prefect' of the police in Paris, received a call from a man called “Jean-Louis”, whom the judges have identified as Jean-Louis Fiamenghi. Fiamenghi is the former head of the police's anti-terrorist unit Recherche Assistance Intervention Dissuasion (RAID) then of the police VIP protection service the Service de protection des Hautes Hersonnalités (SPHP). He was given the status of prefect by Sarkozy in 2010 and the two men are said to be very close.

Philippe Bohn © DR Philippe Bohn © DR
During this intercepted conversation Jean-Louis Fiamenghi says that one of his connections has “some very particular things to reveal” to Nicolas Sarkozy. The “informant” in question was not just anyone; it was Philippe Bohn, current vice-president of EADS, according to information gleaned by Mediapart, Le Point magazine and Le Monde newspaper. His offices and home were searched by officers involved in the Libyan funding investigation on March 26th.

Born in 1962, Philippe Bohn knows Libya well, having headed up EADS' African and Middle Eastern operations, and he is very familiar with the world of French intelligence, whether it be the DCRI or the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE), France's external intelligence agency. Politically he is on the right, and makes no secret of his closeness to his mentor, former minister Alain Madelin, and the defence minister under Nicolas Sarkozy, Gérard Longuet. During the 2007 presidential election Bohn was very active in his support for the centrist candidate François Bayrou.

After this phone call a meeting was organised the same day between Bohn, Sarkozy and Gaudin. According to what Mediapart has been able to piece together, Philippe Bohn was asked at that meeting about a Libyan diplomat, Moftah Missouri. As Colonel Gaddafi's interpreter, Missouri was in some ways the mouthpiece of Franco-Libyan relations for nearly 15 years. “It could be that I was questioned on some technical aspects concerning the institutional functioning of certain African countries,” Bohn told Mediapart cautiously. “But I took absolutely no initiative in any way to inform whomsoever it might be about current proceedings about which I don't know the ins and outs,” he stated.

The evening before the meeting between Sarkozy, Bohn and Gaudin the investigative TV programme Complément d’enquête on public broadcaster France 2 had screened a damning interview with Moftah Missouri. In it the interpreter first of all confirms the authenticity of an official Libyan document, revealed by Mediapart, according to which Gaddafi's regime had agreed in principle in 2006 to releasing 50 million euros to the Sarkozy camp for the presidential election the following year. Secondly the interpreter indicates that, according to his information, the equivalent to 20 million dollars had indeed been paid.

Financement libyen de Sarkozy : un témoignage clé © Mediapart

Even if Nicolas Sarkozy suspected Philippe Bohn of being a “schemer”, his expertise seems to have been taken sufficiently seriously for Michel Gaudin and the former president in person to call the current director of the DCRI Patrick Calvar on two occasions between June 21st and June 24th 2013 to ask for an explanation about the links between his service and this Libyan witness. The former president of the Republic was insistent, asking the head of the intelligence agency if his agents had information on him. Patrick Calvar replied that to his knowledge no investigation had been carried out on Missouri.

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