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Show Me the Money: French Government Told to Pay Up Over Spy Equipment


It’s time to pay up. That’s the message from one of the French government’s major suppliers of electronic surveillance equipment used for monitoring suspected jihadists, following claims the company is owed €8 million (£5.9 million) in unpaid bills.


The head of electronics company Elektron wrote an open letter to French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, questioning the government’s commitment to increasing security and surveillance following recent terror attacks in Paris, citing outstanding bills on bugging and wire-tapping operations.

Elektron is one of five companies that supply the French government with surveillance equipment, with the company’s chairman Michel Besnier saying that Elektron is responsible for 35 per cent of telecommunications intercepts in France.

In the open letter, Mr. Besnier said he had raised the issue of the unpaid debts with France’s Ministry of Justice, claiming that the pressures placed on the company could lead to the “risk of malfunction of our systems.”

He noted that unpaid debts of €8 million placed a considerable strain on his company, whose annual turnover in 2014 was €12 million, while any additional pressures on Elektron may have an adverse impact on the ability of French agencies to monitor suspected jihadist cells.
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