Burkina Faso arrests 4 French officials over espionage

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Four French civil servants, intelligence agents according to a Burkinabè source, and computer maintenance technicians according to a French diplomatic source, were arrested in Ouagadougou at the beginning of December, in a context of very tense relations between Burkina Faso and France.

“We are in the process of verifying the real field work of four French nationals presented as agents of the DGSE (External Intelligence, editor’s note). They are currently before investigators,” said the Burkinabè source.

For its part, a French diplomatic source declared to AFP that “on December 1, four French officials, holders of diplomatic passports and visas, were arrested in Ouagadougou by the Burkinabè police. These four technicians were in Burkina Faso to carry out a computer maintenance operation for the benefit of the French embassy”.

“On December 14, they were indicted and transferred to the Ouagadougou detention and correction center”, she continued. The same source adds that “the French consulate general was able to exercise consular protection and visit them”.

“The French government takes note of the ongoing legal proceedings, but rejects accusations that these technicians were sent to Burkina Faso for reasons other than their computer maintenance work. He requests their return to France without delay”, concludes this diplomatic source.

According to a European diplomatic source, these French people “are known to their Burkinabe colleagues”.

The magazine Jeune Afrique wrote on Tuesday that the four men are accused of “espionage”, the Burkinabe source also indicated.”The brother country of Togo is helping to find a solution”.

Relations between France and Burkina have been considerably degraded since coming to power in September 2022 by a coup d’état the second in eight months of captain Ibrahim Traoré

After obtaining the withdrawal of French forces, Ouagadougou denounced a 1961 military agreement with France in March.

The French ambassador to Ouagadougou, recalled after the coup d’état of September 2022, has not been replaced.

Burkina Faso has also suspended several French media including Le Monde, Radio France Internationale.

In its desire to diversify its partnerships, Burkina Faso has notably moved closer to Russia this year. LCI, and Jeune Afrique, France 24,

In addition to a rapprochement in the military domain, Russia has notably promised to build a nuclear power plant in Burkina.

In November, Ouagadougou was one of the first African countries to receive free Russian grain, as Vladimir Putin promised a few months earlier.

Burkina has also moved closer to its two neighbours, Mali and Niger, also governed by military regimes.

The three countries have been facing recurring terrorist attacks for several years from groups.

In Burkina alone, they have caused more than 17,000 civilian and military deaths since 2015.

 

Africanews/Hauwa M.

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