Investigations

  • How Sarkozy's former spy chief worked on behalf of Kazakhstan

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    On Wednesday March 4th, France’s top appeal court ruled that billionaire Kazakh opposition politician and former banker Mukhtar Ablyazov could be extradited over an alleged six-billion-euro fraud. Meanwhile, behind the scenes in this complex affair, a mysterious website has revealed a mass of emails hacked from Kazakhstan leaders. They reveal that Bernard Squarcini, who was the head of France's domestic intelligence agency under President Nicolas Sarkozy, has worked as a consultant on behalf of the Kazakh authorities in relation to the Ablyazov affair. Talking to Mediapart, Squarcini admits the Kazakh government is a client of the firm he works for and that he has worked on the case, but denies claims that he tried to “infiltrate” Ablyazov's team of lawyers and supporters. Agathe Duparc reports on this murky affair.

  • Nuclear firm executive given key role in business climate summit

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    A former French environment minister is the brains behind a high-level business forum on climate to be held in Paris in May which aims to produce ideas for the critical global climate conference in the French capital in December. Among the organisers of the business event is an executive seconded from Areva, the French nuclear group. Is there a conflict of interest in a nuclear power executive taking a role in such a summit? The man behind the summit insists not, saying that it was “rather good” of Areva to send someone. Jade Lindgaard reports.

  • The story of how and why Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine

    By Marcus Bensman, David Crawford, CORRECT!V
    Les débris du vol MH17 le 17 juillet 2014. © CORRECT!V Les débris du vol MH17 le 17 juillet 2014. © CORRECT!V

    Mediapart publishes here an in-depth investigation by its German partner site CORRECT!V  which details why the shooting down over eastern Ukraine on July 17th 2014 of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, killing all 298 people onboard, is a war crime in which the Russian army is, at the very least, implicated. The BUK M1 surface-to-air missile responsible for the destruction of the plane was brought into position by members of the 53rd Russian air defence brigade from Kursk which, in an operation to protect Russian tank units, was operating in disguise on Ukrainian territory. "There is hardly any doubt: a Russian officer gave the command to shoot down MH17," concludes the investigation. But this report also underlines that some of the responsibility for the tragedy is shared by several other parties, notably the Ukrainian government which used civilian flights as human shields for its air attacks on Russian positions.

  • 'No Jew in France is safe any more'

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    In the wake of the terrorist acts earlier this month that left 17 people dead, including four Jews at a kosher supermarket in Paris, and after the extraordinary public marches that followed them, Mediapart met with five key Jewish figures in France. They are all past or present heads of the influential Jewish students organisation the Union des étudiants juifs de France and spoke frankly about their views on the rise in anti-Semitism in France, their dismay at the “indifference” of many French people to previous attacks on Jews in the country, and their pride at the mass demonstrations of January 11th. Carine Fouteau reports.

  • How the Paris terrorists slipped off intelligence radar

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    Les frères Kouachi, lors du braquage d'une station-service dans l'Aisne, le 8 janvier 2015. © Vidéo-surveillance Les frères Kouachi, lors du braquage d'une station-service dans l'Aisne, le 8 janvier 2015. © Vidéo-surveillance

    The two brothers who last week carried out the shooting attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine were the object of separate surveillance operations by French intelligence services between 2011 and 2014, which was halted last summer after it apparently failed to uncover evidence that they were involved in terrorist activity, Mediapart can reveal. Meanwhile, the third terrorist, Amedy Coulibaly, who killed five people during the Paris terror attacks last week, fell completely off the radar of anti-terrorist services after his release in March last year from prison where he had been serving time for his involvement in a plot to free a convicted terrorist from jail. Fabrice Arfi reports.

  • Charlie Hebdo killings: did intelligence services overlook threat from terror network?

    By and
    Photo de surveillance policière de 2010 de Chérif Kouachi avec Djamel Beghal © DR Photo de surveillance policière de 2010 de Chérif Kouachi avec Djamel Beghal © DR

    The murder of a policewoman and the bloody siege at a Jewish supermarket carried out by a known associate of the two suspects in the Charlie Hebdo massacre indicates that an organised group was behind last week's terror attacks. Mediapart has had access to documents from an anti-terrorist investigation in 2010  showing that two of last week's gunmen were involved back then with a radicalised French network that was considering future “martyr operations”. These were supermarket hostage taker Amedy Coulibaly and Charlie Hebdo massacre suspect Chérif Kouachi. As Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report, the revelations will inevitably raise questions about whether more could have been done by the intelligence services to prevent last week's bloody events.

  • Far-right Front National's Russian loan: '31 mln euros more to follow'

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    France’s far-right Front National party has sought a loan of 40 million euros from Russian contacts, according to information obtained by Mediapart. After the party’s leader Marine Le Pen last weekend confirmed it had been lent 9 million euros from a Moscow bank, a senior party official has told Mediapart that this was a “first instalment” and that another 31 million euros “will follow”, a claim refuted by Le Pen. Meanwhile, Russian media reports have speculated that the Russian bank deal could not have been reached without approval by the Kremlin. Marine Turchi reports.

  • How a Russian bank gave France's far-right Front National party 9mln euros

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     © DR © DR

    France’s far-right Front National party has obtained a loan of 9 million euros from a Russian bank. The loan, from the First Czech Russian Bank, was obtained after lengthy lobbying of the Russian authorities by party leader Marine Le Pen and other party officers who have been welcomed in Moscow by senior politicians close to President Vladimir Putin. Marine Turchi reports on the development of the surprisingly close relations knotted between the Front National and Russia's leading officials before the loan was agreed, the precise origins of which remain unclear.

  • Graphologists confirm Gaddafi-Sarkozy illegal funding document is genuine

    By and
    25 juillet 2007. Claude Guéant (à gauche) et Nicolas Sarkozy retrouvent le colonel Kadhafi à Tripoli. © Reuters 25 juillet 2007. Claude Guéant (à gauche) et Nicolas Sarkozy retrouvent le colonel Kadhafi à Tripoli. © Reuters

    Graphology experts assigned by a French judicial investigation to determine the authenticity of the signature on a document published by Mediapart detailing the Gaddafi regime’s approval of payment of 50 million euros to back Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 presidential election campaign have unanimously concluded that it is indeed that of Moussa Koussa, head of the Libyan foreign intelligence services and later the dictator’s foreign affairs minister. The finding is a crucial new development in the investigation which has now gathered testimony from numerous experts backing the authenticity of the document. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

  • Revealed: how French state hid truth about dam protest death for two days

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    Rémi Fraisse © DR Rémi Fraisse © DR

    The French state knew almost immediately what caused the death of 21-year-old student Rémi Fraisse at an eco-protest on October 26th, but sought to hide the facts for 48 hours. That is the clear implication of the initial findings of the independent judicial investigation into Fraisse's death at the Sivens dam protest in south-west France, details of which have been seen by Mediapart. These preliminary findings, backed by witness statements from gendarmes at the site, show that the forces of law and order were aware straight away that the botany student had died directly as a result of an 'offensive' grenade thrown by one of them. In an emotional statement the student's family has formally asked President François Hollande to explain why the government took two days to recognise what happened, and why a grenade packed with explosives was thrown at Rémi in the first place.