FRANCE: Row over disbanding of journalists 'spy' unit

Intelligence unit gathered information about politicians and journalists for ministry of overseas territories

Pacific Media Watch
Friday, January 18, 2008

Pape'Ete (RNZI Online/Pacific Media Watch) --- Reports from France say there have been disagreements over the disbanding of the intelligence unit attached to its ministry of overseas territories -- originally set up to gather information about politicians and journalists.

The move was announced by the junior minister, Christian Estrosi, and the French weekly Le Point now says he will not rescind his decision after it was criticised by his superior, the Minister of the Interior, Michele Alliot-Marie.

Estrosi said the contract of the general in charge of the ministry’s military unit expired at the end of December and after consulting the president, the prime minister and the defence minister, it was disbanded.

He says the intelligence unit was set up in 1959 to gather information about politicians, as well as journalists, on the ministry’s behalf.

According to Le Point, Alliot-Marie will hire a military adviser and maintain some offices responsible to the high commissions.

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