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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, Mont Valérien, Plateau d'Albion, Agde, Solenzara (South Corsica), and Filley Barracks in Nice.
There are some other stations in overseas territories and former colonies
- Djibouti (Camp Lemonnier - closed, now occupied by US Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa)
- Mayotte (Closed in 1998)
- and base aeronavale La Tontouta in New Caledonia
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.
- "La France se met à l'espionnage" (in French). Free (ISP). Retrieved 11 June 2013. "Frenchelon (ou French Echelon) est le surnom donné au réseau d'écoute de la DGSE. Le véritable nom de ce système d'écoute n'est pas connu (contrairement à ce que nous expliquions, ce n'est pas Emeraude)"
- (French) Emeraude : Ensemble mobile d’écoute et de recherche automatique des émissions (Mobile set for listening and automatic searches of emissions)
- 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.
- "Frenchelon Station, Dordogne, France". Cryptome.