Press targets Sarkozy for snooping

Published on 4 November 2010 at 14:59

In its 3 November edition, French satirical weekly Canard Enchaîné accuses President Nicolas Sarkozy of having personally ordered the French secret service to “put journalists investigating stories that could be embarrassing to him or his associates under surveillance.” The Canard explains that the head of French intelligence, who believes that his agency would be more productively employed in the fight against terrorism, has entrusted this task to a special working group.

The French press has yet to respond to the revelations, which have come in the wake of several mysterious burglaries involving the theft of computers owned by journalists investigating the Bettencourt affair: a political-financial scandal surrounding the Minister of Labour, Eric Woerth, and the L’Oréal heiress. A few weeks ago, the daily Le Monde filed suit, because the secret service had been used to trace sources consulted by the newspaper’s journalists working on the story. Libération reminds its readers that in the spring of this year, secret service operatives were ordered to identify the source of rumours, which claimed that France’s First Lady, Carla Bruni, was having an affair.

In Romania, controversy is brewing over the regular publication by the press of wiretap transcripts involving businessmen and the country’s politicians. Headlining with "Wiretaps, from one dictatorship to the next," Jurnalul Naţionalnotes that this type of surveillance is a long-standing tradition in Romania, where it was deployed by the communist party "to provide regular updates on targets’ levels of patriotism and devotion to the cause."

On a more general note, Jurnalul Naţional points out that “wiretaps are deployed by governments who want to sit back in office," and an obsession with surveillance is typical of excessively powerful centralized regimes. In Romania, "progress from one generation to the next has not put an end to the use of wiretaps in a state which has genetic predisposition to eavesdropping".

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