How French intelligence shields the Sarkozy clan’s unofficial emissary

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In a series of exclusive reports that began in July, Mediapart has revealed the longstanding close links between France-based businessman and arms dealer Ziad Takieddine and the inner circle of advisers and aides surrounding Nicolas Sarkozy, before and after he became French president. Here, Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske reveal how the French intelligence agency, the DGSE, has sought to conceal all it knows about the businessman's activities.

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Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine, 61, is cited as a key witness in ongoing investigations led by examining magistrates into suspected illegal political financing in France from the sale of three French Agosta class submarines to Pakistan in the 1990s. The magistrates' enquiry was launched after suspicions that the significant sums officially destined as commissions - or bribes - to Pakistani officials ended up returning, illegally, to France to fund political activities. Suspicion centres on former prime minister Edouard Balladur's political movement and unsuccessful 1995 presidential election campaign, for which his budget minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, also served as official campaign spokesman.