France accused of threatening press freedom

Lazy eyes listen


Amnesty International has expressed concern about the arrest of a journalist in France this week in relation with their reporting in 2021 that Egyptian intelligence had been used to kill civilians.

“Putting a journalist in police custody for doing her job, let alone revealing information of public interest, could be a threat to freedom of the press and source confidentiality,” Katia Roux, liberties campaign officer at Amnesty International France, told Reuters on Tuesday. Roux expressed her concern over the development.

The remarks came after the arrest earlier on Tuesday of Ariane Lavrilleux, who spent the night of September 19 in detention for questioning as part of a French government inquiry.

The probe originates from a series of revelations by Lavrilleux, who claimed, based on leaked classified government documents, that Egyptian officials utilised French intelligence to kill traffickers in an operation on the Egyptian-Libyan border between 2016 and 2018. In her findings, Lavrilleux stated that French intelligence was employed in “at least 19 bombings” in which people were murdered.

The French investigative journalism website Disclose, which first published Lavrilleux’s stories, admitted at the time that the charges contained classified national security information. The magazine, on the other hand, stated that it had a duty to publish “in the name of a fundamental principle of democracy: the right to information.”

The website further claimed that the concept of classified material “cannot be invoked.”

Shortly after the journalist’s arrest, Virginie Marquet, a lawyer for both Lavrilleux and Disclose, stated that the probe “risks seriously undermining the confidentiality of journalists’ sources.”

However, in an official legal complaint filed in the aftermath of the publications, the French Ministry of Defence claimed that Lavrilleux and Disclose had infringed “national defence secrets” and jeopardised a “protected agent.”