The attack took place on 3 June in Petit-Couronne, a small town near the city of Rouen. After a violent altercation in front of the mosque, the assailant dragged the cameraman inside and kept him there by force until the police rescued him. In the course of the fight, the journalist’s camera was damaged and he lost his press badge, which was picked up and photographed by another man.
“We strongly condemn this unacceptable act of violence at a time of widespread mistrust of journalists, who are often targeted while just doing their job to report the news,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s European Union and Balkans desk.
“This attempt to intimidate and prevent a journalist from filming on the public highway and the fact that his press ID was photographed in order to threaten him afterwards must be condemned with the utmost firmness.”
The police took the assailant before an investigating judge, who placed him under investigation on suspicion of “theft with violence” but did not detain him. The cameraman, who filed a complaint against his assailant, has been given five days’ medical leave.
A court in Boulogne-Sur-Mer has meanwhile sentenced the mosque’s imam to two years in prison on a charge of helping migrants to cross the Channel illegally.
France is ranked 32nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.