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Four Soviet Diplomats Expelled

February 3, 1986 GMT

PARIS (AP) _ The Foreign Ministry said today that four Soviet diplomats had been expelled. Official sources said the four were Soviet military intelligence agents linked to the arrest of a retired French naval veteran who has been charged withspying for the Kremlin.

It was the largest single expulsion of Soviets from France since 1983 when 47 Soviet officials were told to leave.

The Foreign Ministry refused to say if the expulsions were linked to the arrest 12 days ago of retired non-commissioned naval officer Bernard Sourisseau, but the sources indicated they were.

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The four diplomats flew from France over the weekend, said the sources, speaking on condition they not be named. All of them, military or commercial attaches at the Soviet Embassy in Paris, were members of the Soviet military intelligence, or GRU, the sources said.

A French Ministry spokesman said simply, ″Four Soviet diplomats were asked to leave French territory following recent investigations by the French judiciary.″ He could not be identified by name in keeping with government practice.

The prosecutor’s office in Rennes revealed last Thursday that Sourisseau, 44, had been charged with spying on French nuclear submarine activities.

He was alleged to have made regular trips to the Atlantic ports of Lorient and Brest and observed warship movements at naval installations there as well as activities near the Ile de Longue nuclear submarine base near Brest.

Officials said Sourisseau had been recruited by a Soviet KGB agent based in Paris.

Officials said that before Sourisseau’s arrest, they had noticed a persistent Soviet interest in the Lorient-Brest region. This included the unusual presence of Soviet trucks allegedly picking up freight, interest by the Soviet airline Aeroflot in beginning flights to Brest’s small airport, and efforts to establish links between Brest and the Estonian port of Tallinn.

In November 1983, Brest Mayor Jacques Berthelot suspended a friendship agreement with Tallinn, saying his city was becoming a key point for East bloc espionage.

Earlier in 1983, an Aeroflot plane arriving in Brest to take tourists to the Soviet Union flew over the nearby Landivisiau naval air base.

Soviet trawlers regularly cruise the region’s waters and often ask permission to dock with technical problems.

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The mass 1983 expulsion of 47 officials, including diplomats, UNESCO representatives and the director of the Paris office of the Soviet news agency Tass, was the largest such action in French history. The Interior Ministry said at the time that the officials were deported for ″systematic″ espionage activities.

The authoritative Le Monde newspaper and the state-run TF1 television station last year published contents of allegedly confidential Soviet documents said to have convinced President Francois Mitterrand to order the expulsions.