France expels six suspected Russian spies after uncovering 'clandestine operation'

Officials claim to have 'thwarted a network of Russian agents who worked against our interests'

The embassy of the Russian Federation in Paris. AFP

France is expelling six Russians suspected of working as spies under diplomatic cover after intelligence services uncovered a clandestine operation on its territory, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

"Six Russian agents operating under diplomatic cover, whose activities were found to be contrary to our national interests, have been declared persona non grata," the ministry said.

It said the DGSI domestic intelligence service had revealed on April 10, after a long investigation, "a clandestine operation carried out by the Russian intelligence services on our territory".

The ministry did not give details of the nature of the operation.

In a tweet, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the DGSI "had thwarted a network of Russian clandestine agents who worked against our interests".

Mr Darmanin said the DGSI had carried out a "remarkable operation of counter-espionage" and praised the organisation for "looking after our fundamental interests while in the shadows".

France on April 4 said it was expelling 35 Russian diplomats as part of a joint European action after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

At the time it described the diplomats as "Russian personnel with diplomatic status stationed in France whose activities are against our security interests".

The six latest Russians expelled were in addition to those 35, the ministry told AFP

Several European countries have expelled Russian diplomats, especially after the outrage over killings in the town of Bucha, near Ukraine's capital Kyiv, where dozens of civilian bodies were found in mass graves or littering the streets.

Updated: April 12, 2022, 4:59 AM