Disgraced French secret agent stole identity of Tariq Ramadan accuser

Woman subjected to social media abuse by supporters of the Oxford professor

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 07, 2012 shows Swiss Muslim intellectual and professor Tariq Ramadan speaking during a meeting focused on "Faith and Resistance, Reform and Expectancy" at the yearly meeting of French Muslims organized by the Union of Islamic Organisations of France (UOIF) in Le Bourget, outside Paris. Reformist scholar Ramadan, already charged with two counts of rape with a third rape accusation emerging in March of 2018, is facing a new complaint in France, for a rape that allegedly took place in 2014, and which could lead to further prosecution. / AFP / Jacques DEMARTHON

Efforts to bring Tariq Ramadan to justice over alleged rapes of women have taken another sinister twist after it emerged that his supporters engaged a rogue French intelligence expert to expose the identity of an accuser.

Lawyers for the woman known as Christelle have said the former agent of the Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure (DGSE) trawled the dark web for information on her in 2018.

The news emerged as Mr Ramadan, a grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, faces a French court hearing on June 23 for violations of the country's anonymity laws governing victims of alleged assaults.

In his book Duty of Truth, Mr Ramadan named his accuser - Christelle is a pseudonym - 84 times.

Eric Morain, the woman's lawyer, said his client had endured "ten times" the usual ordeal of an accuser as a result of the hate campaign from the Ramadan camp. "It has been two and a half years since my client and others filed complaints," he said. "However, in recent judicial history, there have never been victims so threatened, attacked, subjected to so much pressure and intimidation. A handful of Ramadan supporters are unleashed against them, and not exclusively on social media. It's unprecedented.

"A police officer was engaged to provide a mysterious sponsor with information that was covered by the secrecy of the investigation, in particular the true identity of my client. This then resulted in real harassment against her," he added.

Mr Ramadan has been suspended from his teaching post at Oxford University since he was charged with raping the feminist activist in 2012 and a disabled woman in 2009. Mr Ramadan initially denied any sexual encounter with Christelle but later admitted to having had a consensual relationship in 2009.

The accusations emerged in 2017 and the alleged hacking began in March 2018.

The disgraced former agent was arrested in September of that year for selling his access to private investigation firms and attempting to see false identities on the dark web. Known only as Haurus, the name of a mythic demon, he is now on trial in France.

The French newspaper Le Monde reported that Mr Ramadan had joined in with social media attacks on his accusers in April, posting his own remarks about "women manipulated and manipulating justice" and retweeting comments about a conspiracy against him.

It was the tip of a much larger trend. "Insults stand alongside fake screenshots and threats," he said. "On Facebook or Twitter, dozens of anonymous accounts provide a sounding board for all attacks."

Mr Morain has called on French magistrates to establish the identity of "Bidule 7575", a dark web user he suspects of commissioning Haurus.

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