European Federation of Journalists

France: Disclose journalist searched and taken into custody

Credits: Disclose.

Ariane Lavrilleux, the French journalist who in November 2021 revealed the Egyptian government’s complicity in “arbitrary executions”, was taken into police custody at 6 am on Tuesday 19 September. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) condemns this brutal violation of media freedom and the fundamental democratic principle of protecting sources.

At six o’clock on Tuesday morning, police officers from the French Directorate-General for Internal Security (DGSI), accompanied by a judge, searched the home of journalist Ariane Lavrilleux, who works for the investigative media Disclose. She was then taken into custody “as part of an investigation into the compromise of national defence secrets and the revelation of information that could lead to the identification of a protected agent, opened in July 2022”.

According to AFP, a source close to the case confirmed that a judge was currently conducting these operations, “given her status as a journalist”.

The EFJ, and its French affiliates SNJ, SNJ-CGT and CFDT-Journalistes, join Disclose in denouncing the intervention of the DGSI as “another unacceptable episode of intimidation”. The EFJ condemns an operation that is clearly aimed at identifying the sources that made it possible to reveal France’s complicity in State crimes in Egypt.

“The French government, which has just scandalously amended the draft European EMFA regulation to legalise spying on journalists, is a sign of a policy hostile to the press and to citizens’ right of access to information. We demand the immediate release of Ariane Lavrilleux and the cancellation of any charges against her”, said EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez on Tuesday.

The EFJ denounced these facts on the Council of Europe’s Platform for the Protection of Journalism. The EFJ and IFJ alert was co-signed by the Committee To Protect Journalists (CPJ) and International Press Institute (IPI). With the detention of Ariane Lavrilleux, France has joined the list of countries in Europe where journalists are detained (Azerbaijan, Belarus, France, Poland, United Kingdom, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine).

This is not the first time that Disclose has been intimidated by the DGSI. On 14 May 2019, two journalists from Disclose who revealed the use of French weapons in the war in Yemen, Geoffrey Livolsi and Mathias Destal were summoned by the DGSI as part of the preliminary investigation opened by the Paris Prosecutor-General for “compromising national defence classification”, upon a complaint by the French Ministry of the Armed Forces. The EFJ reported that case to the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism.

SNJ statement, here.

CFDT-Journalistes statement, here.

SNJ-CGT statement, here.

This statement was produced by EFJ 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.