Urgent Action Update: Harassment of Journalists Continues (France: UA 70.19)
June 14, 2019
Seven investigative journalists have been summoned since February for questioning by the Intelligence Services after the Paris Prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary investigation against them for revealing a national defense secret. In April, the online media portal Disclose published the ‘Yemen papers’ regarding the sale of French weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and their use against civilians in the context of the Yemen civil war. The authorities have pressured the journalists to reveal their sources, however their actions are protected by the right to freedom of expression and the preliminary investigation against the journalists must stop.
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Rémy Heitz Procureur de la République de Paris Tribunal de Paris
4ème division – Section C1 Terrorisme et atteinte à la sûreté de l’Etat
Parvis du Tribunal de Paris
75859 Paris Cedex 17, France
Email: [email protected]
Ms Nathalie Broadhurst Chargée d’Affaires ad interim
Embassy of France
4101 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington DC 20007
Phone: 202 944-6000
Contact form: https://bit.ly/2QbKqkv
Salutation: Dear Ms. Broadhurst
I am writing to you to express my serious concern about the preliminary investigation that your office is currently undertaking against numerous journalists in relation to the publication in April of the ‘Yemen papers’ inquiry regarding the sale of French weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and the use of these weapons against civilians in the Yemen civil war. I am aware that since February, at least seven journalists were summoned for questioning by the Intelligence Services in relation to the information related to sales of French arms: Geoffrey Livolsi, Mathias Destal, (working for the online media Disclose), Benoît Collombat (working for Radio France) and at least 4 other journalists. I am aware that the authorities summoned the journalists as ‘suspects’ and have concentrated their questions on identifying the sources of the journalists.
The right to freedom of expression protects the right to seek, impart and receive information and ideas of all kinds, including information about serious human rights violations. Journalists play a crucial role in informing society and must be able to operate without being threatened and harassed for their work. I am concerned that this investigation is being used as a means to harass journalists and force them to reveal their sources. Information about human rights violations is in the public interest and journalists should not be prosecuted for communicating such information.
I am urging you to immediately close the investigation against the journalists and respect their right to freedom of expression and ensure they are able to continue their work without fear of reprisals.