A GPS tracker found under a car in Besançon (France)

(translated from the original article in french at https://radiobip.fr/site/blog/2021/04/16/besancon-anarchiste-il-trouve-un-mouchard-sous-son-vehicule)

The story may sound funny, but the experience was, to say the least, indelicate. At the end of march, a man from Besançon was informed that a GPS tracker had been attached under his personal vehicle. A way to track his every move, announced by… the gendarmes themselves. Six months after being cleared in an investigation, he was contacted by the departmental section of Doubs in order to remove a device of which he knew nothing. A convinced anarchist with no previous criminal record, this witness feels that he was “targeted for his ideas.”

We meet David (First name changed) in the evening, a little on the edge of the old town. An educator by profession, the young man has never hidden his sensitivity to the concept of class struggle or to self-organization principles. Nevertheless, he never thought he would one day be the object of so much consideration. His “case” began on september 22, 2020, when in the early hours of the morning four gendarmes began a search of his home and placed him in custody. A hearing under the supervision of the JIRS [Note from Ears and eyes: a kind of court that handles complex cases] of Nancy, for “destruction of property by fire in organized group.”

This first case will not go any further, the simple man from Besançon being released and cleared. “I was only accused of my libertarian opinions and commitments, my appearance with the yellow vests, as well as my presumed links with another arrested person,” he explains. While “all that is behind him”, he is contacted on march 22 by the local gendarmerie. “A soldier asked me if I still owned my car, brand X and model Y. I said yes, and he gave me an appointment at the barracks of Justices indicating that it was to remove a bug.”

David examines his vehicle, and notices an oddity in the lower body frame. He and his partner went to the agreed time and place three days later, where a technician proceeded to remove this “little box of Pringles”. Installed there since may 2020, says the uniform. Six months after being cleared, he learns that he potentially remains under close surveillance. “The lois scélérates [Note from Ears and eyes: a set of french laws passed from 1893 to 1894, targetting anarchists and restricting freedom of the press] have been repealed for thirty years, but the hunt for opponents continues” he concludes. After being solicited, neither the gendarmerie nor the public prosecutor’s office have reacted yet.

Articles 230-32 to 230-44 of the code of criminal procedure define “[the use] of any technical means intended to locate in real time […] a person, without his knowledge, a vehicle or any other object, without the consent of its owner or possessor, if this operation is required by the necessities […]” A text appearing today inalterable but which formerly had not ceased to fluctuate, between the decisions of the court of cassation and the decisions of the constitutional council often severe on the imperative limits not to be crossed.

However, the latitudes granted are still very generous, as such measures can be justified by the mere suspicion of any crime or misdemeanor and this for up to two years. Concerning the most serious offences, such as “aiding the illegal entry, movement or residence of a foreigner”, the time allowed is that of the investigation, and the installation can even be ordered by intrusion into a home. And if the operations must in principle be motivated, any complaint is impossible in this matter. […]

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