Stop snooping

France's secret agents have gone on strike. But they're not telling the world why.

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Can counterspies, notorious in fiction for betraying one another, muster the solidarity that's normal for a trade union? That question was answered in Paris last week - we think - as employees of the French agency for counter-espionage, counter-terrorism and computer security staged a protest.

There was, the newspaper Le Monde notes with wry Gallic wit, no press release to alert the media to this manif (as the French call protests). The paper heard of it from an MP sympathetic to the workers.

The union which represents the members of this agency, as well as senior policemen and women, is known as SNOP (Syndicat National des Officiers de Police); an appellation charmingly close to SNOOP.

It seems appropriate, too, that the agency's 3,100 employees would not reveal the exact subject of their protest; the paper winkled out the news that the problem had to do with the wrong people getting promoted.

We wish we'd been there to see it: an unknown proportion of the 4,000 French counterspies, the men no doubt wearing false moustaches and the women wearing wigs, protesting against … something - and, we suppose, carrying picket signs disguised as baguettes.