PARIS: France is expelling six Russians suspected of working as spies under diplomatic cover after the French 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 foreign ministry said in a statement.
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 statement did not give details on the nature of the operation.
In a tweet, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the DGSI “had thwarted a network of Russian clandestine agents who worked against our interests”.
He 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”.
The move comes after France on April 4 said it was expelling 35 Russian diplomats as part of a joint European action after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
It had at the time described those diplomats as “Russian personnel with diplomatic status stationed in France whose activities are against our security interests”.
The French foreign ministry told AFP Monday that the six latest Russians expelled were in addition to the 35 already announced.
Numerous European countries have expelled Russian diplomats, especially after the outrage across Europe over killings in the town of Bucha near Ukraine’s capital Kyiv where dozens of bodies were found in mass graves or littering the streets.