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A DGSE site in Domme, Périgord (Ph. Luc Viatour)

Frenchelon is the nickname given to French signal intelligence system in reference to its Anglo-American counterpart ECHELON.[1]


  • History 1
  • Operations 2
  • References 3
  • Further reading 4
  • External links 5


Its existence has never been officially acknowledged by French authorities, although numerous journalists, based on military information have mentioned it, since the European Parliament investigated ECHELON and also its implications in counter-terrorism.


The system is allegedly operated by DGSE, whose Direction Technique (Technical Direction) is responsible for signal intelligence. The largest station is in Domme, near Sarlat in Périgord. Some of the other stations in France are: Alluets-Feucherolles (Alluets-le-Roi), Mutzig (Alsace), Mont Valérien, Plateau d'Albion, Agde, Solenzara (South Corsica), and Filley Barracks in Nice.

A DGSE site near Saint-Christol

There are some other stations in overseas territories and former colonies

These stations, in addition to the DGSE headquarters on boulevard Mortier in Paris, intercept electronic communications, decipher using software coded communications of diplomatic, military or industrial origin.

French newspapers recently indicated that DGSE had an interception program on submarine cables, similar to NSA ones. No official data indicates whether this could be a part of FRENCHELON.

It shouldn't be confused with the French Army's official listening system Emeraude,[2] which used to be mistakenly confused with Frenchelon.


  1. ^ "La France se met à l'espionnage" (in French).  
  2. ^ (French) Emeraude : Ensemble mobile d’écoute et de recherche automatique des émissions (Mobile set for listening and automatic searches of emissions)

Further reading

  • Jerome Thorel (June 30, 2000). "Frenchelon - France has nothing to envy in Echelon". ZDNet. 
  • Duncan Campbell; Richard Barry (June 30, 2000). "Frenchelon: First pictures of French listening post". ZDNet. 

External links

  • Press review (in French)
  • French spying (in French)
  • War of information made in France (in French)

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