A senior French civil servant who worked at the Senate has been arrested by intelligence agencies on suspicion he passed confidential information to North Korea, AFP reports.
Benoit Quennedey, who is also the president of the Franco-Korean Friendship Association and has published works on the isolated, dictatorial nation, was taken into custody late Sunday, the source in Paris said late Monday.
After an inquiry which began in March, prosecutors suspect him of the “collection and delivery of information to a foreign power likely to undermine the fundamental interests of the nation”, the source said.
Quennedey is being held at the headquarters of France’s DGSI domestic intelligence agency on the outskirts of Paris.
The French news and talk show Le Quotidien, which broke the story, said he was arrested at his home and his Senate office had been searched.
It was not clear what type of information Quennedey – who is a senior administrator in France’s upper house of parliament in the department of architecture, heritage and gardens – was suspected of trying to pass to Pyongyang.
Quennedey has written frequent articles on North Korea and travelled extensively throughout the peninsula, according to the website of his publisher Delga.
Last December Delga published Quennedey’s latest work, “North Korea, The Unknown”.
In a video posted on YouTube that month, Quennedey described the impoverished pariah state as a “model for development”, praising citizens’ free access to education and health care.
“I’ve been there seven times since 2005, and in North Korea, you notice it, there’s no litter on the ground,” he says in the video.