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Controversial French former spy chief found dead in Paris

Controversial French former spy chief found dead in Paris

June 6, 2013by Joseph Fitsanakis


The retired director of a now-defunct French intelligence agency, who was involved in several politically charged court cases in recent years, has been found dead in his Paris apartment. From 1992 to 2004, Yves Bertrand, headed the Direction Centrale des Renseignements Généraux (known widely as RD), the domestic intelligence service of the French police. Bertrand, who once described himself as “a minesweeper for the republic”, was a reclusive figure that zealously guarded his privacy and avoided any contact with the French media. In 2007, however, he was thrust into the public spotlight after he was involved in the so-called Clearstream Affair. The controversy centered on a list of names of European government officials who had allegedly received bribes in return for authorizing weapons deals with Taiwan. French investigators searched Bertrand’s Paris apartment and confiscated nearly two dozen volumes of his personal notebooks, in hopes of uncovering inside information linking the Clearstream affair with leading French politicians, including conservative frontrunner Nicolas Sarkozy. In 2008, numerous excerpts from Bertrand’s confiscated diaries found their way into the French press. They included embarrassing revelations about the lives of many French public figures, including politicians. A year later, Bertrand’s name was implicated in the so-called Angolagate trial, which probed unauthorized shipments of over $600 million-worth of weapons to post-civil-war Angola. Even though the former spy chief had been instructed to appear as a witness in the case, he refused to attend and instructed his lawyers to issue formal denials of his involvement in Angolagate. According to unconfirmed media reports, Bertrand was found dead on Monday morning inside his apartment in Paris’ 8th district by a building caretaker. The cause of the former spy director’s death remains unknown. The RD, which Bertrand headed for over a decade, was dissolved in 2008. It was amalgamated with the Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire to form the Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur (DCRI).

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