Ariane Lavrilleux Library

France: IPI condemns arrest of investigative journalist Ariane Lavrilleux

France: IPI condemns arrest of investigative journalist Ariane Lavrilleux

Journalist for Disclose detained for alleged violation of national security secrets.

The International Press Institute (IPI) today condemns the arrest and interrogation of French journalist Ariane Lavrilleux and demands her immediate release from custody. IPI further calls on French law enforcement authorities to ensure full respect for international media freedom standards on source protection.


Lavrilleux, a journalist with French non-profit investigative platform Disclose was taken into custody on Tuesday 19 September after a dawn raid on her home by officers from the domestic intelligence agency, the DGSI. Her apartment was searched and her computer was confiscated, in the presence of a judge, according to media reports.


The journalist was taken to the DGSI headquarters in Marseille and questioned for several hours in the presence of her lawyer as part of an investigation into the publication of highly confidential documents in the investigative series, the “Egypt Papers”. She remained in custody overnight and into Wednesday 20 September.


In November 2021, Lavrilleux had co-authored and published the Egypt Papers, an investigative series based on hundreds of leaked documents which revealed how information gathered by French counter-intelligence bodies was abused by the Egyptian military to carry out a campaign of bombings and arbitrary killings of alleged smugglers and innocent civilians.


At the time, Disclose had issued a statement justifying its decision to publish the confidential information, citing the evidence of the French state’s potential complicity in serious human rights abuses committed by a foreign regime, and the public’s right to know about such matters of public interest.


In July 2022, prosecutors in Paris opened an investigation that was later handed over to the DGSI. They alleged the publication had compromised national defence secrets and revealed information that could lead to the identification of a protected agent. It is unclear whether any intelligence official was compromised.


“IPI is highly alarmed by the continued detention and interrogation of Ariane Lavrilleux and urges the General Directorate for Internal Security to proceed with extreme caution and full respect for French law and international legal standards regarding journalistic source protection”, IPI Executive Director Frane Maroevic said. “Any charges against Lavrilleux must be dropped immediately and all pressure on Disclose and its journalists related to their investigative work must cease.


“The arrest of an investigative journalist is extremely serious, as it has major ramifications for press freedom”, he added. “Journalists’ right to protect their sources is enshrined in national and international law as it essential for journalists to expose wrongdoing and hold power to account. The public interest defense of revealing the information published in Disclose’s investigative reporting on the Egyptian military is clear. IPI and our global network stand behind Lavrilleux and her colleagues at Disclose and will continue to monitor the situation closely.”


The arrest of Lavrilleux is believed to be the first time since 2007 that the home of a French journalist had been searched by police.


In a statement released immediately after the arrest, Disclose said: “The aim of this latest episode of unacceptable intimidation of Disclose journalists is clear: to identify our sources that revealed the Sirli military operation in Egypt. In November 2021, Disclose revealed an alleged campaign of arbitrary executions orchestrated by the Egyptian dictatorship of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, with the complicity of the French state, based on several hundred documents marked ‘defence – confidential”.


Maroevic added that IPI had been in contact with staff at Disclose after the arrest and has offered to help provide legal support through the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a European consortium which offers legal aid. He noted that the arrest was the latest in a number of worrying incidents involving the interrogation of journalists from Disclose in relation to their reporting on the Egyptian government, and its sources for those stories.

This statement was coordinated as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and candidate countries.

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France: Three journalists summoned by security agency over suspected…

France: Three journalists summoned by security agency over suspected violation of national defence secrecy

The partner organisations of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) today express concern over the latest summons issued by France’s top security agency to journalists from investigative platform Disclose and public broadcaster Radio France over the suspected violation of national secrecy in connection with their reporting on the armed forces.

Our organisations raise the alarm that the three journalists summoned for voluntary questioning could face potential prison sentences of up to five years and a fine of €75,000 if charged and ultimately found guilty. We therefore urge the General Directorate of Internal Security (DGSI) to seriously consider the implications of this case for press freedom.


The trio – Geoffrey Livolsi, co-founder of investigative media outlet Disclose, Jacques Monin, head of investigations at Radio France and Benoît Collombat, an investigative journalist at Radio France – have been summoned to the DGSI for questioning on 14 December as part of an ongoing judicial investigation into alleged violation of national defence secrecy.


The summons is linked to a March 2018 investigation authored by Collombat and Livolsi, entitled “Air transport: suspicions of influence peddling in the army”, which reported that the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) was probing allegations of financial misconduct in the military. The article revealed that high-ranking officers including a named official of the Special Operations Command (COS) were being investigated over alleged air transport subcontracting fraud.


The trio are due to be questioned on the suspicion that they “committed or attempted to commit the offense of revealing or disclosing information allowing the identification of a member of a special forces unit”. According to reports, the summons comes after an unnamed former member of the French special forces filed a complaint. Livolsi from Disclose has stressed that all the officers named in the investigation work in the logistics services of the army, rather than on a mission or in a conflict area and were not in any danger. Both Disclose and Radio France stand by the accuracy and public interest nature of the publication.


Our organisations note that this summons is part of a wider pattern of criminal investigations against media by DGSI in recent years. Journalists from Disclose and Radio France were the subject of a separate investigation in 2019. That summons was based on a complaint by the Ministry of the Armed Forces about publication of classified information about French complicity in supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia which were used to commit war crimes in Yemen. In that case, the DGSI questioned the two co-founders of Disclose and Collombat about a potential violation of national secrecy and attempted to identify their sources.


A second investigation into Disclose was then initiated in November 2021 in connection with its revelations about the alleged complicity of French military intelligence in the arbitrary executions of civilians in Egypt. That time, the Ministry of the Armed Forces filed a complaint alleging the non-profit platform had violated national defence secrecy. Both of these previous probes targeted legitimate and public interest journalism which had led to serious questions and criticism about the operations of the French military and intelligence services. 


As in those cases, this summons has serious implications for media freedom. Firstly, serious questions arise as to why this complaint was made now, nearly five years after the journalists’ investigation was published. Moreover, as this probe is being conducted within the scope of national security, the DGSI has the full range of investigatory powers at its disposal, including the use of surveillance tools. This not  only creates a stressful climate for the media outlets but could also discourage sources and potential whisteblowers from speaking out.


Our organisations recognise the challenges which come with striking the right balance between safeguarding press freedom and protecting national security. However, it is vital for democracy that journalists and media outlets carrying out investigative reporting on matters of public interest, including about the armed forces and even the special forces, must be able to work free from all forms of pressure or retaliation.


Ahead of the summons on Wednesday December 14, our organisations emphasise that we will closely monitor developments and will respond strongly to further escalations which negatively affect the freedom of the press. If required, we also stand ready to provide assistance to the affected journalists through our MFRR legal support fund.

Signed by:

  • ARTICLE 19 Europe
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)

This statement was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States, Candidate Countries and Ukraine.

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Journalist shooting Martinique Library

France: EFJ statement on four journalists who were shot…

France: EFJ statement on four journalists who were shot at in Martinique

Four French journalists covering the protests against the Covid-19 rules and civil unrest in Martinique have been fired upon three times. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined its affiliates in France (SNJ, SNJ-CGT, CFDT-Journalistes) in expressing full support to the targeted journalists and strongly condemning a new attack on press freedom, which must be promptly investigated by the French authorities.

On the night of the 25 and 26 November 2021, photographer Loïc Venance from Agence France-Presse (AFP), journalists Maureen Lehoux and cameraman Julien Taureau from BFMTV/RMC Sport and journalist Raphaël Lafargue from Abaca Press were filming and taking pictures of a burning roadblock from a quiet street near the Levassor canal in Fort-de-France. The street was at the time deserted when two men on motorbikes drove by and started firing at them. No bullets hit them and they managed to flee the scene quickly, going for cover in their vehicle parked nearby and drove away.

Authorities on the Caribbean island of Martinique ordered a curfew yesterday after protesters looted stores and burned barricades amid strong protests over Covid-19 measures in the French overseas territories. A general strike started five days ago, notably against the compulsory vaccination of health workers. It is reported that seven policemen have been injured last night in Fort-de-France.

EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez said: “The civil unrest in Martinique reflects a complex situation that is exacerbated by the virus and all that it entails, so it is crucial that journalists be able to do their work freely and safely in order to best inform the public and the rest of the world about what is happening there. We give them all our support. We have taken the matter to the Platform for the protection of journalists of the Council of Europe.”


France: Journalist Thomas Dietrich interrogated for two hours by…

France: Journalist Thomas Dietrich interrogated for two hours by police

Police summoned Le Média journalist Thomas Dietrich to Puteaux police station (Paris), where he was interrogated for two hours over a recent journalistic investigation. The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ/EFJ) joined their affiliate in France, the SNJ-CGT, in denouncing the attempted intimidation and have called on the authorities to dismiss the groundless complaint against him.

The summons followed a complaint filed by the former head of the Chadian political police, Mahamat Ismaël Chaïbo, for “threats to commit a crime or an offence” after the journalist went to his home in Paris to ask him questions. The journalist denied making any threat during the interview with Chaïbo, which took place last week on the doorstep of his apartment and was recorded. During the interview, Chaïbo responded to a few questions and eventually called his lawyer, saying a journalist was asking “dumb questions” and requested him to “prepare a complaint”.

Dietrich was released after three hours in custody, during which the police asked him questions for two hours regarding Chaibo’s allegations of threats. No charges have been filed against the journalist but the complaint has not been dismissed. Dietrich says he believes the action was designed to pressure him to stop his investigation and find his sources.

Dietrich is an experienced journalist who has been investigating Franco-African relations and crimes committed by authoritarian regimes close to French governments for several years.

“We can only be astonished at the speed of these intimidation maneuvers by the French police against our journalist, even though the authorities have twice allowed Mr. Chaïbo to return to Chad, despite his summons and the publication of our investigation,” said Le Média in a press release.

The French journalists’ union SNJ-CGT denounced the move as a clear attack on the right to information: “This obvious desire to put pressure on a journalist who is well known to the Chadian services and the government in power is intolerable. The SNJ-CGT is doing everything in its power to ensure the safety of a journalist who is in the sights of the Chadian regime and some Franco-African networks, so that he can continue his investigations,” said deputy secretary for International affairs Pablo Aiquel.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “We cannot accept that the authorities harass and judicially pressure a journalist to stop him from doing his job. We stand in solidarity with Thomas and urge this groundless case to be closed.”

EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez added: “This case is serious as it is an attempt to intimidate a journalist and interfere with his investigative work. Thomas Dietrich was only doing his job as a journalist, asking questions and confronting the facts. His case must be closed immediately.”