Bettencourt affair is again an affair of state

Published on 2 September 2011 at 10:54


“How secret services spied on Le Monde,” headlines the Paris newspaper, revealing that a judicial inquiry has confirmed that the French secret service illegally monitored phone calls in July 2010 by one of its journalists, Gérard Davet, in order to identify his sources in the Woerth-Bettencourt affair. The goal: to stop up the leaks in this case involving the then Minister of Labour and former treasurer of the UMP, President Sarkozy’s party. This investigation that followed a complaint by Le Monde “contradicts the claims of the government and police officials,” the daily writes. The authorities had denied any wiretapping of the journalist’s telephone, an act that would have violated the law on protection of journalists’ sources.

While Libérationdescribes the chief of counter-espionage, Bernard Squarcini, the former secretary general of the Elysee and current Interior Minister, Claude Guéant, and the director of the National Police, Frédéric Péchenard, as “liars of state”, Le Monde draws two conclusions: “On the one hand, the powers that be showed no hesitation in flouting the law” and the freedom of the press. “On the other hand, the top echelon of the state has used public resources for private purposes and to shield the president’s party, not hesitating to divert the work of the police from their true mission to protect citizens... What now has to be described as an affair of state confirms the suspicion that a ‘black room’ exists at the very top of the executive. It doesn’t bode well for any one.” (‘Black room’ was the name given historically in France to an office where the mail of persons under suspicion was intercepted and read before being sent on).

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