September 8, 2014 - Updated on January 20, 2016

National Front evicts Mediapart reporter from “summer university”

Update - 26/11/14 The National Front (FN) has again refused to accredit a journalist with the French news and opinion website Mediapart, with the result that the site will not be able to attend the congress that the FN is holding in Lyon on 28-29 November. “We cannot approve your request for accreditation to the National Front congress for security reasons, due to the large number reporters and photographers,” the FN wrote in a letter to Mediapart. Pointing out that the website has been denied access to three consecutive FN events since the start of the year, Mediapart editor François Bonnet said: “Marine Le Pen still does not understand that, in a democracy, the media are free and must be allowed to make their own editorial choices when covering political parties, not hers.” The Canal+ programme Petit Journal has also been refused accreditation. ---- The party’s assumption of the right to choose which journalists cover its events is very dangerous, RWB warns. The FNJ, the youth wing of the National Front (FN), banned Mediapart reporter Marine Turchi from covering its “summer university” in Fréjus last weekend. This is not the first time the FN’s leadership has assumed the right to choose which journalists cover its activities. Turchi had obtained FNJ accreditation and was able to cover the opening, but after the summer university’s breakfast on 6 September, the press service asked her to return her press badge and to leave at the behest of the FN leadership. Turchi, who has covered the FN for Mediapart ever since the online newspaper’s creation in 2008, was previously denied entry to an FN news conference in April to which she had nonetheless received an invitation. And in 2012, Mediapart was banned from covering an FN event concerning Marine Le Pen’s candidacy. “It is not up to the FN and FNJ to decide which journalists may or may not cover the events they organize,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Assumption by political parties of the right to choose the journalists that cover their activities is clearly very dangerous.” Deloire added: “The FN receives national media coverage. Democratic principles require accepting that the coverage is pluralist in nature. Evicting journalists and banning news media are unworthy of a democratic party, which should respect the right to information.” FNJ president Julien Rochedy told Agence France-Presse that “a small problem of coordination and organization” was to blame for the fact that was Turchi was given accreditation and then asked to leave. He confirmed that it was the party leadership that gave the orders for her to be excluded. Several media decided not to cover the rest of the event in solidarity with Mediapart.