Gaydamak Was Once Secret French Agent, Former Minister Says

Gaydamak has been sentenced to six years in prison and fined 1 million euros for gunrunning in Angola.

Recently convicted Israeli-Russian-French businessman Arcadi Gaydamak was formerly an agent for the French domestic intelligence agency DST, former French interior minister Charles Pasqua told the daily Le Figaro on Thursday.

Gaydamak was sentenced to six years in prison and a fine of 1 million euros for gunrunning in Angola. Pasqua was convicted in the same trial, for taking bribes from Gaydamak and his business partner, Pierre Falcone.

As interior minister, Pasqua was in charge of domestic intelligence and a governmental arms trade agency.

Gaydamak had previously told Haaretz that he cooperated with the French overnment, helping to rescue two French pilots captured in the war in the former Yugoslavia in he 1990s, as well as two French intelligence officers captured by rebel factions in the Caucasus.

Gaydamak told Haaretz he won citations from the French government for those efforts, but the operations were so secret the citations spoke of his contribution to "agriculture" instead. He also said he was the victim of a power struggle between the DST and another intelligence agency.

Pasqua said in the interview that then-president Jacques Chirac knew of Gaydamak's contributions and personally authorized the citations.

The indictment against Gaydamak stated that the French authorities had also suspected him of working for Russian intelligence.

Israel's security services at one time considered soliciting Gaydamak's assistance in purchasing strategically important materiel in the former Soviet, but eventually decided against using him.

Apart from Gaydamak, 41 people, including former senior French officials and other public figures, were convicted in the gunrunning case