France: Support for weekly Le Poher, targeted by new death threats and a bomb scare
French weekly Le Poher had to evacuate its office on 20 February 2023 after an anonymous caller said a bomb had been placed in the office in Carhaix, France. Although no explosive device was found, this incident comes on top of several serious acts of intimidation targeting Le Poher in recent weeks. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joins the French journalists’ unions SNJ, SNJ-CGT, and CFDT-Journalistes in expressing solidarity with the six employees, and denouncing the deleterious effects of these repeated attacks on the regional independent newspaper and its journalists.
The bomb threat is the latest of a series of events that started in October 2022, when the editorial staff received an anonymous letter critical of an article published a few days earlier by the newspaper, reporting on the town’s project “Horizon”. Abandoned since then, the project was supposed to host refugees in Callac, a town of 2,200 inhabitants. The unsigned letter was a text taken from the website “Résistance Républicaine”, an anti-muslim website launched in 2009.
A few months later, in January 2023, editor-in-chief Erwan Chartier-Le Floch received a threatening email saying “we are going to kill you” and including violent racist language. It was sent from an email address written with direct threats.
Less than two weeks later, an anonymous caller asked the office, asking for the whereabouts of Chartier-Le Floch: “What time can I come by, and put a bullet in his head?” The caller used the same menaces on the person who answered the phone.
“These threats appear to be part of a campaign of intimidation by the ultra-right,” said Erwan Chartier-Le Floch, whose portrait, along with that of editor Faustine Sternberg, was published on the far-right websites “Riposte laïque” and “Résistance républicaine” on 8 February.
In connection with this case, a journalist working for France 3 Bretagne, who had reported on the death threats sent to the weekly, was herself harassed and intimidated online. She filed a complaint to the police on 16 February 2023 “against X and against the Riposte Laïque website for public insults, threats and sexist comments”.
The public prosecutor confirmed that 12 complaints had been filed in total.
The EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez said: “We strongly condemn these intimidations and send our full support to the editorial staff. We call on the authorities to react quickly to ensure the safety of the journalists.”
This statement by EFJ is 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.