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Chronicles of a Russian Espionage Operation in Tunisia

Around 18pm, May 2015, Karim waits in front of the Bizerte church for Samia G who had asked him to return two of the municipality’s registers. “That’s him, Karim, the Russian”, she tells the four policemen accompanying her to their meeting point. A five year long Russian espionage operation is about to come to an end. 
06 February 2020
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Created by
Inkyfada Podcast
Translation and Voice-Acting
Majd Mastoura
Written and directed by
Monia Ben Hamadi
Co-directed by
Bochra Triki
Editing and mixing
Yassine Kawana
Musique
Omar Aloulou
Illustration
Marwen Ben Mustapha

[This article was translated and read in Tunisian]

Through the cooperation of several Tunisian officials, two Russian spies managed to obtain countless official documents and information about third parties over the course of five years ( 2012-2015).

These officials provided them with civil status records, birth and death certificates, as well as the marriage and divorce certificates of both Tunisian nationals and foreigners. They were also able to provide themselves with blank administrative documents, family records and stamped documents, certifying that ' the copy is verified and original'...

A few weeks before the operation ultimately failed, they managed to obtain a birth certificate under the name of Meriem Ben Idriss, born in 1986. It came to light during the judicial investigation that this woman never actually existed. She was an urban myth, most likely created to serve as a fake identity for an ' Illegal' or ' clandestine spy', an espionage technique that Russian intelligence services are particularly fond of. 

To achieve their objectives, Mikhail and Karim tried to establish personal and regular relationships with their targets. Between intimate coffees at hotels in Bizerte and social dinners in La Marsa, they would inquire about administrative procedures or specific documents, and even be on the lookout for particular people of interest.

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