France has come under fire from human rights groups for undermining press freedom following the arrest of an investigative journalist who reported on Egypt’s use of French-provided intelligence, which resulted in extrajudicial killings of civilians in the Western Desert between 2016 and 2018.
According to APthe investigative news channel Reveal said reporter Ariane Lavrilleux was detained over a report released two years ago documenting how French military intelligence had been abused by Egyptian authorities to attack smugglers on the Libyan border and kill civilians.
This is a new, unacceptable attack on source confidentiality. pic.twitter.com/SBMFzuXpin
— Disclose (@Disclose_ngo) September 19, 2023
As a result, the report led to the Directorate General of Homeland Security (DGSI) opening an investigation in July 2022 into Disclose’s work, which it said “compromised national defense secrets and revealed information that could lead to the identification of a protected agent. ”
In a statement yesterday, Disclosure condemned the arrest as “an unacceptable attack on the confidentiality of sources,” while the Société des Journalistes of France Télévisions and Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) also condemned the attack on press freedom. “We fear that the actions of the DGSI will undermine the secrecy of the sources,” RSF said.
#France🇫🇷: RSF condemns the detention of journalist @AriaLavilleux and the search of her home and equipment as part of an investigation into endangering national security. We fear that the actions of the intelligence service DGSI are undermining the confidentiality of sources. https://t.co/tv1KCMsSUs pic.twitter.com/YAhBvv6Qbb
— RSF (@RSF_inter) September 19, 2023
Disclosure revealed that DGSI police officers yesterday detained Lavrilleux and searched her property in an attempt to find sources of the devastating leak, which relied on secret defense documents implicating the French military in at least 19 airstrikes on civilians between 2016 and 2018.
The counterintelligence operation, codenamed Sirli, began in February 2016 during the government of former President Francois Hollande and continued despite concerns from both French Military Intelligence (DRM) and the air force over Egypt’s use of the intelligence. counter-terrorism purposes and not to target non-combatants.
Lavrilleux’s lawyer, Virginie Marquet, has warned that the crackdown “risks seriously undermining the confidentiality of journalists’ sources”, telling AFP that her client had “only revealed information of public interest.”
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