Libya

Libyan payment to Sarkozy 'cardinal' confirmed by Paris appeal court

France

Former French interior minister Claude Guéant, who served for years as chief of staff of Nicolas Sarkozy before and after he became president, received 500,000 euros paid through a complex money trail that led back to a sovereign wealth fund controlled by the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, a Paris appeal court has confirmed. The payment was made when Guéant, dubbed “the cardinal” because of his power and influence as Sarkozy’s right-hand man, was secretary general of the Élysée Palace. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

Repression and death: how French-made weapons are being used in global conflicts

International — Analysis

Despite this country's proclaimed values and its international commitments, French-made weapons are being used to carry out repression and kill civilians in some of the worst conflicts on the planet, including in the Middle East. On the eve of President Emmanuel Macron's tour of Gulf states on 3rd and 4th December, in which further arms deals may be clinched, Mediapart lists some of the conflicts where exported French armaments are being deployed. Rachida El Azzouzi reports.

Revealed: the extraordinary plan to free one of Gaddafi's sons in bid to help Sarkozy

France — Investigation

France's financial prosecution unit the Parquet National Financier (PNF) has broadened the scope of its investigation into claims that Ziad Takieddine, a key witness over allegations that Libya helped fund Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign, was induced to change his evidence. Well-connected Paris paparazzi boss Michèle 'Mimi' Marchand is one of those under investigation over the allegations. Prosecutors now also want to look at suspicions of an extraordinary plan to bribe judges in order to free one of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi's sons from prison in Lebanon. The idea was that, in exchange, a grateful Hannibal Gaddafi would then speak out and clear the former president's name over the 2007 election funding allegations. As Fabrice Arfi, Karl Laske and Antton Rouget report, the affair could potentially now become an international scandal.

French paparazzi agency boss under investigation for witness tampering in Sarkozy-Libya funding affair

France — Investigation

French paparazzi agency boss Michèle Marchand, an influential PR fixer for politicians, was on Saturday placed under formal investigation for witness tampering and criminal conspiracy. The move relates to the public retraction by a key witness of part of his previous testimony to a judicial probe that Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign was funded by the regime of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Fabrice Arfi, Karl Laske and Antton Rouget report.

Mahamat Mahdi Ali: the Chad rebel leader targeted by France

International — Investigation

The veteran Chad leader Idriss Déby Itno, a close ally of France for many years, died in April, reportedly after being wounded on the battlefield fighting against an armed rebel group in the country. That group is the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), led by a man called Mahamat Mahdi Ali. The rebel leader has close links with France; he spent part of his life here and his family still lives in Reims, north east of Paris. He was also a member of the Socialist Party before he says he was “betrayed” by his former comrades when they were in government; he was subject to financial sanctions from the authorities in Paris over what he says are unfounded claims of links to terrorist groups. Some observers see the targeting of Mahamat Mahdi Ali as a favour by the authorities in Paris to the Déby regime, which has been a stalwart supporter of France's anti-terrorism strategy in the region. Rémi Carayol reports.

The French firms servicing UAE’s Mirage jets used in support of Libyan warlord

International — Investigation

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is actively involved in Libya’s civil war in support of warlord Khalifa Haftar’s campaign to topple the UN-recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli. That military support involves the deployment of the UAE’s French-built Mirage fighter planes, which are suspected of firing missiles at civilian sites, representing potential war crimes. Those same aircraft are given technical maintenance and upgrades by French defence firms acting with government approval, raising serious questions about France’s compliance with international law.

Libyan funding case: what Sarkozy told the judges

France — Investigation

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was subjected to four days of questioning earlier this month by judges leading a complex investigation into evidence of Libyan funding of his 2007 election campaign, at the end of which he was formally placed under investigation for “criminal conspiracy”. Mediapart has obtained access to the transcripts of the interrogation, during which he insisted on his innocence and laid responsibility for any wrongdoing on his two longstanding, loyal right-hand men, Claude Guéant and Brice Hortefeux, describing their dealings with Libya and intermediaries as, variously, “incomprehensible”, an “error” and a “mistake”. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

France pulls out of Nato maritime mission in row with Turkey

International — Link

Weeks after an incident in which France accused Turkish warships of intimidating one of its frigates, the French defence ministry has announced it is suspending its role in Nato's Mediterranean operation Sea Guardian, accusing Turkey of violating an arms embargo against Libya.

Macron denounces Turkey’s attitude in Libya

International — Link

France sees Ankara as an obstacle to securing a cease-fire in the conflict-torn country.

Documents place SocGen execs in question over Libyan corruption scam

International — Investigation

Giant French banking group Société Générale has admitted corrupting Libyan officials under the regime of late dictator Muammar Gaddafi to gain contracts worth more than 2 billion dollars. The scam involved paying vast secret commissions to a businessman intermediary via his offshore company based in Panama. In a 2017 statement recognising its role, the bank said that it “wishes to place on record its regret about the lack of caution of some of its employees”, but documents now obtained by Mediapart suggest the operation may have been validated at the highest level of the group’s management. Fabrice Arfi reports.

France cancels speedboats delivery to Libyan coastguard

International — Link

The French government has finally announced it will not supply the Libyan coastguard with six speedboats destined to be used against clandestine crossings to Europe after several NGOs mounted a legal challenge to the sale, arguing that France was contributing to human rights violations in Libya where captured migrants face notorious internment camps, torture and being used as slave labour.

How French warplanes sold to Egypt helped Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar

International — Investigation

In April 2019 the self-styled 'Field Marshal' Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive against the regime in Tripoli which is acknowledged by the international community as Libya's legitimate government. Yet during his recent military campaign to control the east of the country, the warlord has had the discreet help of several important allies, including France. And as Yann Philippin, René Backmann and Antton Rouget report, Haftar also received air support from French-made Rafale jets which had been sold to Egypt.

Sarkozy-Libya affair: judges probe key middleman's network of influence

France — Investigation

French detectives and judges investigating the financial links between former President Nicolas Sarkozy's entourage and the Libyan regime of dictator Muammar Gaddafi are making progress in relation to a key figure in the affair. He is businessman Alexandre Djouhri, currently living in London, whom French judges are trying to extradite for questioning. His right-hand man, banker Wahib Nacer, was placed under formal investigation in the affair earlier this year. Fabrice Arfi reports on the latest judicial developments that are causing concern for the Sarkozy clan.

Tunisia – the new graveyard for migrants trying to cross Mediterranean

International

The authorities in Tunisia have been overwhelmed following the shipwreck off neighbouring Libya on July 1st 2019 which left 90 migrants drowned. Graveyards are full, migrant reception centres cannot cope and there is no overall integration plan to welcome migrants into society. The Tunisian government is also critical of the inaction of European countries over the issue. Lilia Blaise reports from Medenine in south-west Tunisia.

France says its missiles found in Libyan camp were 'unusable'

International — Link

Four US-made Javelin anti-tank missiles, bought by France and discovered by forces loyal to the UN-backed Libyan government in a camp used by enemy troops serving Libya’s eastern commander Khalifa Haftar, were left by a French military unit on 'counter-terrorism operations' and were 'damaged and unusable' according the defence ministry in Paris.