Intercepted conversations imply that the former President was anxious to be kept informed over a probe into his alleged funding by the Libyan dictator
Nicolas Sarkozy badgered the head of the French security service for information on the progress of inquiries into his alleged funding by the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, it has emerged.
Judges investigating the alleged illegal financing of the former President’s 2007 election campaign tapped two phone calls by Mr Sarkozy to the head of the French equivalent of MI5, Le Monde has reported.
As a result, Patrick Calvar, head of the Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur (DCRI) was questioned as a “witness” in the case by the two judge last Friday, according to Le Monde?
The approaches made by Mr Sarkozy, and similar calls by the head of his private office, are not illegal. They imply, however, that the former President was anxious to be kept informed about an investigation that he has publicly dismissed as “absurd” and “infamous”.
The revelations also give weight to previous allegations that Mr Sarkozy has used his contacts as a former head of state in relation to a tangle of judicial investigations into his alleged financial misconduct.
Mr Sarkozy and friends will, on the other hand, point to the latest development as further evidence of what he claims is a “Stasi-like” persecution by the Socialist administration of President François Hollande. Last month it was revealed that the judges had bugged phone conversations between Mr Sarkozy and his lawyer. It now emerges that police officers working with the judges were also listening in two calls – in June last year and in January this year – between Mr Sarkozy and the head of the French internal security service.
Inquiries by investigating magistrates in France are entirely independent of the government of the day. Nonetheless, Mr Sarkozy alleged in a long newspaper article last month that the tapping of his phone had been inspired by the government and that his political opponents had been reading transcripts of his intimate, personal conversations.
Mr Sarkozy has been accused by one of Mr Gaddafi’s sons and several ex-Gaddafi aides of taking either €20m or €50m from the late Libyan dictator to fund his successful 2007 presidential campaign. No clear evidence to back the claims has emerged. One document leaked to the French press proved to be a forgery.
Nonetheless, according to Le Monde, Mr Sarkozy personally phoned the head of the DCRI, Mr Calvar, to ask whether the security service was helping in the investigations. In one call, according to the leak, he was especially keen to know whether the DCRI had questioned Mr Gaddafi’s personal interpreter, Moftah Missouri.
In June last year – just before the first of Mr Sarkozy’s calls – Mr Missouri told a French TV documentary that Mr Gaddafi had informed him “verbally” of a €20m payment to the future French president.
According to Le Monde, the DCRI head, Mr Calvar, refused to tell Mr Sarkozy whether his agency was investigating the Libyan allegations or not. He also refused to comment when questioned by the judges last Friday, saying DCRI business was a “state defence secret”.
JOHN LICHFIELD Author Biography PARIS Thursday 03 April 2014