MOSCOW, November 7 (RIA Novosti) — Drone culprits arrested by the French police on Wednesday, November 5, have turned out to be harmless model enthusiasts.
"The mystery over a spate of unidentified drones spotted flying over French nuclear facilities deepened today after two men detained near a plant were released when police found they were harmless model enthusiasts," Agence France-Presse reported.
The suspects, two men, 24 and 31 years old and a woman, 21, were questioned by the police on Thursday after they had been caught with two unmanned flying vehicles "in a car in a restricted area about 650 feet from the [nuclear] plant," the New York Times noted, citing Le Monde, the French newspaper.
The string of 17 illegal drone flights over France's nuclear facilities has puzzled the police and triggered growing concerns regarding national security. However, Prosecutor Vincent Bonnefoy emphasized that the model enthusiasts "had no connection with the other nuclear sites overflown since October," Agence France-Presse points out. Actually, the three individuals had been filming a remote-control boat floating in a lake near the nuclear site.
The New York Times underscores that from October 5 to November 2, French guards from about 13 nuclear plants had registered civilian/commercial drones flying over the facilities. Reportedly, the unmanned aerial vehicles could take photographs and videos.
French officials have already qualified the action as an "organized provocation" aimed at disrupting “the surveillance chain and protection of these sites."
According to Agence France-Presse the state-owned EDF power company "was the first to ring the alarm bells" last week regarding unidentified small drones which hovered above the nuclear plants. It should be noted that France's law prohibits the use of civilian drones in such areas as atomic plant facilities, "which are protected by a no-fly zone that spans a 2.5-kilometer (1.6-mile) radius and a height of 1,000 meters," the media outlet reports.
Although small aerial vehicles do not pose a substantial threat to the nuclear plants, it seems the mysterious fly-overs have apparently put France’s nuclear site security to the test.