How French defence firm Thales placed a mole inside the UN

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From 2016 to 2019 an officer in the French air force reserve worked for the United Nations in New York in a technology and communications department that helped support peacekeeping missions. Officially the French military had seconded his services free of charge to the UN. But in reality the experienced officer was working for and being paid by France's major defence and electronics firm Thales, according to documents seen by Mediapart. As Yann Philippin and Antton Rouget report, senior figures in the French state were aware of what was going on.

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The location is New York and the date is July 16th 2017. In the glass tower that houses the United Nations, Major Philippe Schifferling was fretting more than ever. This officer in the French air force reserve had a problem: his secondment from France's Ministry of Armed Forces to the UN was due to end in two months and he still did not know what he would be doing next.