Le Canard enchaîné describes him as "one of the pillars" of the newspaper during "the 70s and 80s". Journalist Jean Clémentin, former great pen of the French satirical weekly accused of having been a spy in the East in the 1960s, "died on January 5 at the age of 98", announced the newspaper, Wednesday January 18.
Jean Clémentin "known as 'Tintin', known as 'Jean Manan'", had joined the weekly in 1960, after having worked for the Associated Press agency during the Indochina war (1946-1954), then at Combat, at Les Temps modern and Liberation (founded by Emmanuel d'Astier de La Vigerie and published from 1941 to 1964). The author of works such as Quasi and The Dolls of Kirchenbronn retired from journalism in 1989 to devote himself to literature.
But he returned to the news in 2022, an investigation by L'Obs accusing him of having been, from "1957 to 1969", a "paid spy of the Czechoslovaks, therefore of the Soviet camp". Czechoslovakia, split since 1993 into two states (Czech Republic and Slovakia), was then a satellite state of the Soviet Union. "Pipa" (his code name) notably "submitted no less than 300 notes, during 270 meetings in France and abroad", noted L'Obs, relying on a file from the StB, the secret services Czechoslovakians, unearthed by a historian. He also "actively - and consciously - participated in three disinformation operations, by publishing in Le Canard enchaîné articles designed by the StB".
"We are obviously not aware, we are flabbergasted," said Nicolas Brimo, current director of Le Canard, in 2022. Jean Clémentin would have felt his first sympathies for the Eastern bloc during the Indochina war, disgusted by the methods of the French colonial army, before collaborating with a member of the Czechoslovak embassy in Paris.
Attracted by the "popular democracies" of the East but also by "the greed", he was described by his handler as a man who "loves money", claims "five mistresses" and has no sufficient income to support his lifestyle.
Protected from any prosecution by prescription, Jean Clémentin "could not respond to his detractors" last year due to "shaky health", Le Canard enchaîné said on Wednesday.