French intelligence has revealed a disturbing rise in power of the far-right conspiracy movement QAnon in the French-speaking world, according to a document obtained by Sunday newspaper the Journal du Dimanche.
The information, which has authorities worried six months out from presidential elections, shows the extent to which QAnon has become entrenched in France – confirming the conspiracy “sphere” goes beyond social media networks.
Sometimes described as a "meta-theory", QAnon adapts and evolves from one country to another.
A brief from the Central Service of Territorial Intelligence (SCRT), entitled “The Influence of the American QAnon Movement in France”, explores the web of francophone conspiracies, also unmasking the names of prominent people involved.
Cited in particular is Rémy Daillet, former leader of the centrist MoDem party, described as one of the "very popular and attractive" personalities who are re-appropriating QAnon theories and spreading them among the French population.
A decade after Daillet was expelled from the MoDem, he set up a website calling for the French government to be overthrown and outlining a vision for France that hits on many libertarian and QAnon themes.
Among them are abolishing Covid health measures, cancelling 5G technology and stopping what the site calls the “undue placement of children”.
Plot to attack vaccine centres
Last Friday Daillet, who says he intends to run for president, was charged with terrorism in connection with a plot to attack vaccine centres and other targets, including a masonic lodge, the Associated Press reported.
Before that he was implicated in a plot to kidnap a child whose mother had lost custody of her. The child had been abducted from her grandmother's home in eastern France, but was recovered in Switzerland a few days later.
Those behind the kidnapping cited Daillet as their inspiration and accused the French government's child protective services of operating a paedophilic scheme.
QAnon, which began in the United States, has struck a chord in France, where people are already open to conspiracy theories, and where the Covid epidemic has encouraged some to question the motivations of people in power.
The SCRT report said: “The French QAnon trend follows the obsessions of the original movement [hidden world order, paedophilia of the elites, control of the media...] which crystallises around the global rejection of political figures."
Others people linked to the “QAnon galaxy" include Marseille dental surgeon Salim Laïbi, Quebec activist Alexis Coissette-Trudel and Swiss doctor Christian Tal-Shaller, who claims vaccines have killed many people.
Anti-vaxx activist Chloe Frammery, a teacher from Geneva who organised protests against the "health dictatorship" was also on the list, as was the Belgian personal development trainer Jean-Jacques Crèvecoeur.
Given the "growing number of French people convinced by conspiracy theories", authorities say they're worried the QAnon influence will damage democratic debate in the run-up to next April's presidential elections, the JDD reported.
There are also fears the movement could promote abstention during the polls, or see the emergence of a candidate who embodies the beliefs of conspiracy theories.
Because their content is censored on traditional social media platforms, conspiracy theorists are increasingly turning their attention to websites hosted abroad, as well as sharing encrypted messages on apps such as Telegram.