Sarkozy under fire for alleged security leak

28th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 28 (AFP) - Opposition politicians in France on Wednesday accused interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy of endangering state security for allegedly revealing a round-up of suspected Islamic militants several days before it took place.

PARIS, Sept 28 (AFP) - Opposition politicians in France on Wednesday accused interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy of endangering state security for allegedly revealing a round-up of suspected Islamic militants several days before it took place.

In a television interview that went out on Monday evening, Sarkozy said that "even as we speak arrests have taken place. They are preventive arrests. But the people who we have picked up know perfectly well why we did it."

On Monday morning police had arrested nine alleged militants in towns west of Paris on suspicion of intending to carry out attacks on targets in the capital.

However the interview was pre-recorded the previous Wednesday, five days before the round-up, leading to suspicions that the minister -- who is an accomplished media operator -- timed his comments deliberately.

The Socialist party (PS) demanded an "urgent explanation of the conditions in which he felt compelled to express himself in advance of an operation which was still under preparation by the intelligence services."

"If it turns out that the detainees were preparing an attack, this premature communication would be an extremely serious error and highly prejudicial to national security," the PS said.

The Communist party asked for Sarkozy's resignation, saying he had committed an "abuse of authority" and "jeopardised the mission's success".

Opposition politicians were also angered that the arrests were carried out in front of television cameras -- a further indication that the media were kept informed despite the supposed secrecy of the operation.

The interior ministry defended itself by saying that Sarkozy had been referring to other arrests that had taken place two days before the interview.

"There was no way he could have made any allusion to the forthcoming arrests because their timing had not yet been agreed on," an official told AFP.

The nine suspects -- who include a man earlier imprisoned for his role in a 1995 bombing campaign in France -- were being questioned for a third day by anti-terrorist investigators Wednesday.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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