French Senate official arrested for ‘North Korea spying’

The Paris prosecutor was investigating him over the “collection and delivery of information to a foreign power likely to undermine the fundamental interests of the nation.” (File/AFP)
Updated 27 November 2018
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French Senate official arrested for ‘North Korea spying’

  • He has written frequent articles on North Korea and traveled extensively throughout the peninsula, according to the website of his publisher Delga
  • Daily television show Quotidien reported that his Senate office had been raided

PARIS: Intelligence agencies have arrested a senior French civil servant on suspicion of spying for North Korea, a judicial source in Paris said.
Benoit Quennedey, the president of the Franco-Korean Friendship Association who has written a book on the isolated nation, was placed in custody on Sunday.
The Paris prosecutor was investigating him over the “collection and delivery of information to a foreign power likely to undermine the fundamental interests of the nation,” said a judicial source on Monday.
Investigators from France’s DGSI domestic intelligence agency are looking into whether Quennedey provided information to Pyongyang, the source said.
Daily television show Quotidien reported that his Senate office had been raided. The inquiry began in March.
According to the Senate website, Quennedey is a senior administrator in France’s upper house of parliament in the department of architecture, heritage and gardens.
He has written frequent articles on North Korea and traveled extensively throughout the peninsula, according to the website of his publisher Delga.
The Franco-Korean Friendship Association pushes for closer ties with North Korea and supports the reunification of the divided Koreas.
North Korea under Kim Jong Un is under strict economic sanctions aimed at forcing the regime to abandon its nuclear missile program.
Ties with the South and the United States have improved markedly since Kim and US President Donald Trump held a historic summit in Singapore in June but the US is still pushing to maintain sanctions until Pyongyang’s “final, fully verified denuclearization.”
In an interview posted on YouTube in August, Quennedey welcomed the easing of tensions.
The president of the Senate declined to comment to AFP.


UK and Russia hold first talks in over a year

Updated 16 February 2019
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UK and Russia hold first talks in over a year

  • The meeting is the first between ministers from the two countries following the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the English city of Salisbury on March 4
  • The attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, which Britain said was done using a Soviet era nerve agent Novichok, plunged relations to their lowest ebb in decades

LONDON: Junior foreign ministers from Britain and Russia met in Germany on Saturday in the highest-level contact between the two countries since an alleged nerve agent attack in Britain last March froze diplomatic relations.
Britain’s Minister for Europe Alan Duncan held talks with Russia’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov on the margins of the Munich Security Conference, according to the foreign office in London.
“Alan underlined that we have deep differences, and the Russian state would need to choose a different path and act as a responsible international partner before there can be a change in our current relationship with Russia,” it said in a statement.
The meeting is the first between ministers from the two countries following the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the English city of Salisbury on March 4 which Britain has blamed on Moscow.
The attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, which Britain said was done using a Soviet era nerve agent Novichok, plunged relations to their lowest ebb in decades.
The attack killed a British woman who came into contact with the Novichok, as well as injuring several others including a policeman.
Among a raft of responses, London suspended all planned high-level bilateral contacts between the two countries, and canceled ministers and members of the royal family attending last summer’s World Cup in Russia.
“(The) minister reiterated the UK’s and Allies’ firm stance in response to the Russian state’s reckless use of chemical weapons in Salisbury,” the foreign office added in its statement.
“He made clear that Russia must address the concerns of the international community.
“This includes ending its destabilising activity in Ukraine; and the persecution of the LGBT community in Chechnya.”
The foreign office said Britain would continue to “build and strengthen our cultural ties and people to people links with Russia wherever we can.”
Ministers from around the world, including those from the US, France, Britain, and Germany, are taking part in several days of talks in Munich this weekend centered on global security issues.