French Journalists Victims of Phone Harassment

Update: 28 Jun 2018 State replied
Year 25 Jun 2015 Country France Category Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
25 Jun 2015 France Harassment and intimidation of journalists Non-state EFJ/IFJ Level 2

On 16, 17, 18 June 2015, French journalists Pierre Haski, founder of the information website Rue89, Denis Sieffert, Director of the weekly magazine Politis, and Daniel Schneidermann, founder of the website Arrêt sur Images, were victims of a harassment campaign targeting their private lives. In all three cases, a hacker took control of their private telephone lines and made telephone calls to the police requesting their intervention at the homes of the targeted journalists on the basis of wholly fabricated personal dramatic incidents. According to the targeted journalists, the alleged perpetrator of those actions is the Zionist Franco-Israeli hacker Grégory Chelli, alias Ulcan, who lives in Ashdod, in Israel. A judicial inquiry is already underway concerning Ulcan who is suspected of having caused the premature death of Rue89 journalist Benoît Le Corre’s father, in August 2014. The father of Benoît Le Corre died as a result of a heart attack shortly after receiving a phone call informing him about the death of his son. The Paris Prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary inquiry into the attacks on Mr. Haski, Mr Sieffert and Mr Schneidermann. The IFJ and the EFJ call on authorities to open judicial proceedings against and to bring to an end the impunity apparently enjoyed by the perpetrator or perpetrators of those harassment operations.

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20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
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