Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has revealed that French operatives have been stealing technological information from American businessmen for years, Politico reported Thursday.
Philip Ewing writes the U.S. foreign policy expert described France’s intelligence services as operating in a mercantilist state, where political economy prevails.
Gates, in an interview for the Council on Foreign Relations this week, said such cyber spies break into hotel rooms to download laptops with competitive information so they can pass it on to French companies.
“There are probably a dozen or 15 countries that steal our technology in this way,” Gates told council board member and CNN host Fareed Zakaria.
“In terms of the most capable, next to the Chinese, are the French—and they’ve been doing it a long time,” he added.
Gates said the revelation drives home the point that the U.S. belongs to the short list of countries that do not use intelligence data for economic gain.
“The Chinese probably have the most pervasive system of collecting against us of any country, but I think it’s important to remember they’re not alone,” he concluded.