Turkmenistan accuses 2 French citizens of spying, subversive activity

Turkmenistan Materials 20 June 2006 16:01 (UTC +04:00)

(MAINICHI)Turkmenistan's security chief accused a French Embassy employee and a French worker at a European security organization of spying and subversive activities in the former Soviet republic.

National Security Minister Geldymukhamed Ashirmukhamedov said in remarks televised Tuesday that the two French citizens had sought to acquire "video material of slanderous and provocative nature intended for foreign special services and subversive centers."

Ashirmukhamedov, who was speaking at a government meeting on Monday, identified the two as Henri Tomasini, a cultural adviser at the French Embassy,

and Benjamin Moreau of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, reports Trend.

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, who also attended the meeting, said "all such actions aimed against the country must be investigated and given a political assessment."

"They should be expelled, or else, if we pretend that we are not noticing anything, they do worse things," Niyazov said.

The French Embassy in the capital, Ashgabat, refused to comment. Officials at the OSCE office weren't immediately available.

Niyazov has ruled the Central Asian nation with an iron fist for 20 years, isolating the nation of 6 million from the outside world and creating an elaborate personality cult around him. (AP)