News

June 1, 2017

France: Legal proceedings threaten news website’s freedom to inform

MARTIN BUREAU / AFP

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the abusive judicial complaints being brought with increasing frequency against French news website Mediapart with the aim of forcing it to reveal its sources and thereby gagging its investigative reporting.


The latest of the many complaints against Mediapart, which threaten its freedom to inform, comes from National Front leader Marine Le Pen in response to seven Mediapart stories about the sources of the party’s funding.


The website’s investigative reporting helped pave the way for several judicial investigations into the National Front’s finances. But it also resulted in two of its journalists, Marine Turchi and Fabrice Arfi, being summoned for questioning on 23 May at the headquarters of the crime squad known by the initials BRDP.


The summons said they are suspected of “violating the confidentiality of a judicial investigation” and “publishing the records of judicial proceedings.” It also pointed out that they are facing the possible of imprisonment.


During their interrogation, Arfi and Turchi were asked to name they sources. They refused to answer any questions and instead made a statement for the record in which they said they were the victims of yet another manoeuvre designed to obtain the identity of their sources and hijack media rights.


It is unacceptable that journalists are being prosecuted on charges punishable by imprisonment when all they did was divulge information in the public interest,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “What kind of country has this become when journalists are officially threatened with imprisonment for uncovering information about the National Front’s funding?


RSF had long campaigned for the repeal of legislation that makes it a crime to receive confidential information from a judicial investigation.


RSF had long campaigned for the repeal of legislation that makes it a crime to receive confidential information from a judicial investigation.

In France, many legal complaints that politicians bring against journalists are based on inappropriate legislative provisions.

France is ranked 39th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.