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18 Sep 2019 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 18 Sep 2019 n° 111/2019 France

Belgian Journalists Nicolas Lahaut and Adrien Heylen Fined and Detained by the Police

Source of threatState
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ
On Saturday 7 September 2019, on the Champs Elysées, at the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris (France), Belgian journalists Nicolas Lahaut and Adrien Heylen were arrested by the French police while covering a 'Yellow Vests' demonstration for the Belgian political magazine "Wilfried". The police immobilised the two journalists and several demonstrators for more than two hours. Nicolas Lahaut and Adrien Heylen showed their press cards to the police, who nevertheless refused to release them and imposed on them a fine of 135 euros for "participation in a prohibited demonstration".
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05 Aug 2019 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 05 Aug 2019 n° 90/2019 France

Journalists Banned from Covering the Evacuation of Amazon France's Headquarters

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ
On 2 July 2019 at around 5 p.m., around ten journalists, including Rémy Buisine (Brut), Matthieu Jublin (LCI), and Alfred de Montesquiou (freelancer), were expelled from Amazon France's offices in Clichy by the Gendarmerie, along with the environmental activists who occupied the premises. Without explanation, the gendarmes escorted the journalists to the Clichy-City Hall metro station. Subsequently, law enforcement prevented journalists from approaching Amazon's offices, while many people were walking by and many vehicles were driving on the street without being stopped or even checked.
The Paris Prefecture de police explained that the civil authority in charge of the law enforcement system had set up an exclusion zone to ensure performance of the various law enforcement missions required. The Prefecture did not explain why the exclusion measure had been applied only to journalists. Journalists denounced the arbitrary and discriminatory nature of the intervention.
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01 Aug 2019 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 25 Apr 2019 n° 43/2019 France

Three Journalists Summoned for Compromising National Defense Classification

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ CPJ
Partner EFJ/IFJ CPJ
A Radio France journalist and two journalists from the collective “Disclose” who revealed the use of French weapons in the war in Yemen, were summoned by the Directorate-General for Internal Security (DGSI) on 14 May 2019 as part of the preliminary investigation opened by the Paris Prosecutor-General for "compromising national defence classification", upon a complaint by the French Ministry of the Armed Forces. The reason for the complaint is the publication by Disclose on 15 April of classified documents on the French weapons used in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Journalists Geoffrey Livolsi, Mathias Destal and Benoît Collombat were informed about their summons by the DGSI on 23 and 24 April. In a joint statement of 24 April, the editorial offices of Arte Info, Disclose, Konbini and Mediapart criticised proceedings that aim to identify the journalists’ sources.
Updates
24 May 2019
Michel Despratx, a journalist at Disclose, will also be heard on 28 May 2019 as a witness for "compromising national defence secrecy" following the publication of a confidential note on the use of French weapons in the war in Yemen. He will therefore not be entitled to a lawyer.
State replies
01 Aug 2019
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18 Jul 2019 Lvl. 1
State replied
Alert created on: 24 May 2017 n° 60/2017 Ukraine

Ongoing Impunity in the Case of Killed Journalists Andrea Rocchelli, Andrei Mironov and Wounded Photographer William Roguelon

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryImpunity for murder
Partner RSF AEJ EFJ/IFJ
Partner RSF AEJ EFJ/IFJ
On 24 May 2014, on the Sloviansk southern front, Italian reporter Andrea Rocchelli, accompanied by Russian journalist and human rights activist Andrei Mironov and French photographer William Roguelon, were the victims of mortar fire that killed Rocchelli and Mironov on the spot and inflicted serious leg injuries on Roguelon, who eventually managed to return to France.

These three experienced reporters were in civilian dress and were travelling in a civilian taxi. They had press accreditation and had crossed ten checkpoints prior to the attack. Their presence was known and they could not be mistaken for military personnel or parties to the conflict.

An investigation was launched in Ukraine, which concluded that no evidence exist to find those responsible for this attack. However many evidences and testimonies were not taken into account : William Roguelon, as well as other key witnesses, were never heard, the ballistic test did not manage to draw any useful conclusion. A complaint has been filed also by William Roguelon in France, and by the Rocchelli family in Italy, where there has been considerable progress in the investigation.

Three years have passed since the date journalists were killed and the Ukrainian, French and Italian authorities cannot let this case go unpunished. They must collaborate and take all appropriate action so as the authors of this attack against journalists do not remain unpunished.
Updates
18 Jul 2019
On 12 July 2019, an Italian court sentenced Vitaliy Markiv, a volunteer fighter within the Ukrainian forces, to 24 years in detention, over his role in the killing of the Italian photographer. Mr Markiv denied he charges and vowed to appeal the sentence.
17 Jul 2017
On 30 June 2017, Vitaliy Markiv, a 28-year-old Italian-Ukrainian citizen was arrested in Bologna in the framework of the investigation into the death of Andrea Rocchelli.
State replies
13 Jul 2017
Reply from the Government of Ukraine
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27 Jun 2019 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 29 Jan 2019 n° 16/2019 France

Arson Attack against France Bleu Isère Radio Station

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ EBU
Partner EFJ/IFJ EBU
In Grenoble, the premises of public service radio station France Bleu Isère were partially destroyed following a fire that occurred around 2:30 am on the night of 27 January 2019. According to the investigation’s initial findings, the fire is most likely a deliberate criminal act. Two fire starts were identified; the door of the service entrance was forced. No injuries were reported, but material damage is significant: the entire ground floor of the building was damaged and the editorial offices destroyed. The first floor premises were spared thanks to the rapid intervention of firefighters. Editor-in-chief Leopold Strajnic said there had been no threat against the radio. The editorial team was able to resume work on 28 January in the afternoon, on the premises of France 3 television in Grenoble.
Updates
30 Jan 2019
Responsibility for the arson attack which destroyed the premises of France Bleu Isère, on the night of 27 January, was claimed in a message published on 29 January on an anti-capitalist anarcho-libertarian website.
State replies
Follow-ups
29 Jan 2019
Media Freedom Representative strongly condemns arson attack on studios of France Bleu Isère radio in Grenoble, calls for swift and thorough investigation
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11 Jun 2019 Lvl. 2
Resolved
Alert created on: 27 Jul 2016 n° 82/2016 France

France 2 TV channel sued in a Commercial Court by the Bolloré Group

Source of threatNon-state
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ Index
Partner EFJ/IFJ Index
On 22 July 2016, the Bolloré Group announced that it would seek a settlement of 50 million euros in damages from France 2 before the Paris Commercial Court as a result of the rebroadcasting on 21 July of the programme “Complément d'enquête” (Further investigation) that covered Vincent Bolloré and the group's activities in Africa. Broadcast for the first time on 7 April, the TV investigative report had displeased the businessman who accused France 2 of fabricating false testimonies. Particularly contentious is the part of the investigation filmed in Cameroon, on a palm oil plantation. In this part, an employee, described as a miner, denounces his working conditions. In a statement, the Group declared that the programme was "damaging to its commercial interests" and that the broadcasting of the TV investigative report was characteristic of " a demonstrated willingness to harm." The amount of damages sought and the recourse to a the Commercial Court – as opposed to a court of civil justice - are previously unseen. These litigation lawsuits could be aiming to serve as a deterrent to journalists and the media to dissuade them from investigating the activities of Vincent Bolloré and the Group Bolloré.
Resolved
11 Jun 2019: On 11 June 2019, given the outcome of the legal proceedings in France, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be ‘resolved’, concluding that it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.
Updates
12 Apr 2019
On 9 April 2019, the Versailles Court of Appeal upheld the judgment of the Nanterre Criminal Court and dismissed the appeal by Vincent Bolloré, Bolloré SA and Bolloré Africa Logistics. It also discharged France Télévisions and Tristan Waleckx on the grounds of the "utmost seriousness", "lack of animosity" and "careful, objective and adversarial presentation" of the report.
28 Mar 2019
On 27 March 2019, the Paris Court of Appeal upheld the judgment of the Paris Commercial Court of 13 June 2018 and ordered Bolloré SA to pay France Télévisions €10,000 in damages for frivolous proceedings.
28 Jun 2018
On 13 June 2018, the Paris Commercial Court declared itself incompetent, on the ground that the exercise of the freedom of expression can be challenged only on the basis of civil law, before the civil justice, except denigration of products and services. None of the criticisms raised was related to the negative impact of the report on the products broadcast by Bolloré SA.
13 Jun 2018
On 6 June 2018, the Nanterre Criminal Court dismissed the complaint of Vincent Bolloré, Bolloré SA and Bolloré Africa Logistics, on the grounds that the incriminated news report was not defamatory. The Court released France Télévisions and the journalist Tristan Waleckx, dismissed the plaintiffs’ €450,000 damage claim, and sentenced each to pay 3,500 € to France 2 and Mr. Waleckx in litigation costs.
28 Apr 2018
On 24 April 2018, Vincent Bolloré, Gilles Alix, Chief Executive Officer of Bolloré SA and Jean-Philippe Dorent, Head of Havas International Cluster, were arrested, put in custody and under investigation by the Nanterre Financial Judges for bribery of a foreign public official, complicity in breach of trust, forgery and use of forgery, in an investigation into the conditions for awarding port concessions of Conakry (Guinea) and Lome (Togo) to Bolloré Africa Logistics. Havas, a subsidiary of Bolloré SA, is suspected of having under-invoiced political advisory services to successful candidates in the elections to obtain, in return, the management of port concessions by Bolloré Africa Logistics.
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11 Jun 2019 Lvl. 2
Resolved
Alert created on: 12 Nov 2015 n° 94/2015 France

Around Ten Journalists from France Télévisions Assaulted by Residents

Source of threatNon-state
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ
Partner EFJ/IFJ
On 9 November 2015, around ten journalists working for public channels France 2 Bordeaux and France 3 Aquitaine were attacked by residents while following members of the Bird Protection League (LPO) during an operation against chaffinch poaching in the Landes. The journalists, as well as members of the LPO, were insulted and assaulted. A photo journalist from France 2 Bordeaux was jostled; his camera was stolen and hidden in a home of one of the residents. Tires were punctured on vehicles owned by the two channels. The altercation, lasting about fifteen minutes, required police intervention, during which the camera was returned to the journalist. The National Union of Journalists (SNJ) confirmed that "France 2 correspondents filed a complaint against assaults and threats, illicit "confiscation" of the camera, as well as vehicle damage".
Resolved
11 Jun 2019: On 11 June 2019, given the outcome of the legal proceedings, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be “resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.
Updates
14 May 2019
On 14 May 2019, the Court of Cassation dismissed the appeal on points of law against the judgment of the Court of Appeal by Jean-Marc and Patrick Dutouya, and ordered each of them to pay €500 in damages to the League for the Protection of Birds.
26 Jul 2018
On 5 July 2018, the Court of Appeal of Pau released Eric Dutouya and sentenced Jean-Marc Dutouya for gun violence to a fine of 800 €uros, half of which was suspended. Patrick Dutouya was fined 1,000 €uros, half of which was suspended. The Court of Appeal also condemned the Dutouya brothers to pay 223 €uros to France Télévision for the material damage suffered while reporting.
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11 Jun 2019 Lvl. 1
State repliedProgress
Alert created on: 02 Nov 2017 n° 127/2017 Croatia

Croatian Journalist Maja Sever Received Death Threat Via Facebook over Her Report on Nigerian Refugees

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ Index
Partner EFJ/IFJ Index
On 29 October 2017, Croatian public television (HRT) reporter Maja Sever received a death threat via Facebook following the broadcast of her report about refugees from Nigeria. The private Facebook message contained abusive racial language, stating that “if you want to live with N***ers, go live in England, France or USA, but do not promote that Freemason’s multicultural politics in Croatia.” The message ended by mentioning execution, warning the journalist that “the day when you will be killed is coming soon,” according to the Croatian Association of Journalists. Maja Sever said that the message was sent by a Croat living in Belgium.
Progress
11 Jun 2019: The police were able to quickly arrest the author of the dead threats who is now awaiting trial.   Article by Deutsche Welle: "Journalists in Croatia facing death threats"
State replies
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06 Jun 2019 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 06 Jun 2019 n° 66/2019 France

Violent Attack Against France 3 Cameraman

Source of threatNon-state
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ RSF
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ RSF
On 3 June 2019, a journalist working for the public broadcaster France 3 Normandie was attacked while filming in front of the mosque As-salam in Petit-Couronne, a city near Rouen. The cameraman was alone taking background footage of the mosque for a report on the imam who was facing trial the same day, when suddenly a man, followed by a group of around 20 men, asked him to stop filming. The journalist was hit, thrown on the ground and had his camera broken. He was then locked up in the compound of the mosque, until the police intervened. The journalist was in shock, slightly injured and given five days of medical leave.

One of the alleged assaillant was arrested on 3 June and taken into custody. He was then charged with violent robbery in a group on 5 June and set under judicial supervision. According to media report, it would be the president of the association that manages the mosque.
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24 May 2019 Lvl. 1
State replied
Alert created on: 11 Dec 2018 n° 138/2018 France

Repeated Police Violence Against Journalists Covering Protests

Source of threatState
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ CPJ Index RSF
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ CPJ Index RSF
On Saturday 8 December, many journalists covering the "Yellow Vest" protests in France were victims of police violence. About fifteen photographers and reporters were wounded by targeted flashball shots, grenades and stray bullets, even though they were clearly identifiable by their press armbands or holding a camera or a video camera. Two photographers from the daily newspaper "Le Parisien-Aujourd'hui en France" were "hit by flashguns on the Champs-Elysées in Paris, one on the nape of the neck and one on the knee", reports the newspaper. A journalist from the A2PRL audio news agency also reported that a police officer shot at her, while journalists from Explicite were targeted by flashguns. "The Sunday Journal" reported that one of his photographers was "hit twice by riot police in a scuffle between police and yellow vests" on the Champs-Elysees. According to AFP, one of their photographers in Le Puy-en-Velay was "lightly hit on the arm by a shot from a tear gas canister as he advanced completely on his own towards a police cordon". Several photographers working for the daily newspaper "Libération" have told similar stories and a Reuters news agency reporter was targeted in Bordeaux. From 8 am onwards the police removed and confiscated journalists’ protective equipment (helmets, goggles and gas masks) even though they had their press cards. These confiscations were sometimes carried out under the threat of being placed in police custody. French journalists' unions have called on journalists to report incidents to the police disciplinary body, the Inspection générale de la Police nationale (IGPN). On Monday, they asked to be received urgently by the President of the Republic.
Updates
24 May 2019
On 3 May 2019, Christophe Deloire, Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), said after a meeting with the President of the Republic that he had pledged that "action will be taken in the face of police violence against the press at Yellow Vests protests". The Presidential Office confirmed, without giving further details, that Emmanuel Macron had assured during this interview "that he was following this very closely and that he would follow the file also in the near future". Journalist David Dufresne was awarded the Grand Prix des Assises des Journalisme at Tours for documenting 102 cases of assaults on journalists out of 795 allegations of "police violence" since the beginning of the "Yellow Vests" movement.
24 May 2019
On 2 May 2019, in response to the persistence of incidents linked to the management of "Yellow Vests" demonstrations by the police, which continue to cause injuries among journalists covering the events, the SNJ, the SNJ-CGT and the CFDT-Journalists unions requested to be received by the Prime Minister and the President of the Republic to inform them about the profession's disapprobation, to call for clarification of these incidents and to obtain the implementation of measures necessary to contain them.
19 Apr 2019
On 18 April 2019, at the presentation of Reporters Wihout Borders’ 2019 World Press Freedom Index, journalist David Dufresne presented his work on police violence against journalists during the yellow vest demonstrations. He recorded 62 cases of police violence against journalists.
Additional Information
State replies
Follow-ups
26 Feb 2019
The Commissioner for Human Rights sends a Memorandum to the French Government
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19 Apr 2019 Lvl. 1
State replied
Alert created on: 26 Nov 2018 n° 131/2018 France

Repeated Attacks on Journalists by the 'Yellow Vest' Protestors

Source of threatNon-state
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ CPJ RSF
Partner EFJ/IFJ CPJ RSF
The French journalists unions SNJ, SNJ-CGT and CFDT Journalistes denounce the multiplication of attacks on journalists during the "Yellow Vest" protests in several French cities. Since 17 November 2018, the insults or threats by some "yellow vests" against journalists have become commonplace during demonstrations and on social networks. Several journalists were also victims of physical assaults. TV news outlets had to take special measures to protect their reporters. On Saturday, 24 November, uninhibited violence was unleashed against several television crews who were covering the demonstrations. In Besançon, on 17 November, journalists from the BIP community radio were subjected to racist insults. One of them was hit in the face. Suffering from a broken bone, he filed a complaint. In Montpellier, on 18 November, several television reporters were attacked by dozens of protesters. Protesters spat in the face of a freelance journalist who collaborates with several television channels, including BFM TV. In Toulouse, on 24 November, the BFM TV and CNews teams were called "collaborators", and were also the target of spitting and threats. These journalists escaped an attempted lynching, on the Capitol Square, conducted by a hundred people, without the intervention of police. In Béziers, on 24 November, journalists from the regional public channel France 3 Occitanie were severely assaulted. A group of about 300 ‘yellow vests’ also attacked the office of newspaper Midi Libre. A journalist was beaten and the door handle of the local newspaper agency was broken when protesters attempted to break into the premises. Five journalists from CNEWS and BFMTV lodged complaints on grounds of "aggravated violence", "death threats" and "attempted gang assault" following protests held on 24 and 25 November.
Updates
07 Jun 2019
On 5 June 2019, the Rouen Criminal Court sentenced five men aged 18 to 59 to six months in prison on charges of "severe assault" against an officer tasked to protect the LCI journalists at the 12 January 2019 protests. The assailants were also ordered to pay him €3,000 in compensation for the damage suffered by a broken nose. Due to the lack of evidence, only two men were convicted of the assault of the journalists.
13 May 2019
On 10 May 2019, the Toulouse Criminal Court found Guillaume H., aged 29, guilty of beating and threatening journalist Jean-Luc Thomas at the 24 November 2018 protest. He was sentenced to five months in prison suspended on charges of "severe assault", €1,600 in damages for the journalist and €1 in damages for CNews. He was also banned from attending demonstrations and forced to undergo treatment for two years of probation.
15 Jan 2019
On 12 January 2019, several journalists were heckled or assaulted while covering "yellow vests" demonstrations in France. On the night of Friday 11 to Saturday 12 January, about thirty “yellow vests” blocked the Valenciennes storage house of the regional daily newspaper "La Voix du Nord", preventing the distribution of 20,000 newspapers on Saturday morning. About fifty "yellow vests", some hooded, blocked the printing center of the regional newspaper "Yonne Républicaine" in Auxerre. They gathered in front of the printing center shortly before midnight, preventing the delivery trucks from leaving. The blockade hindered distribution of some editions of "Le Journal du Centre" and "La République du Centre" regional dailies. Near Angouleme, the regional daily "La Charente libre" could be published only thanks to police protection. About 70 “yellow vests” had gathered in front of the newspaper headquarters. They tried to block the distribution of the daily newspaper, accused of being "a pack of hacks on the government’s payroll". On Saturday in Rouen, a security guard who accompanied two journalists from the LCI news channel was beaten while on the ground. His nose got broken. A complaint was filed. In Paris, a team of LCI journalists was also attacked by some demonstrators and a journalist was thrown to the ground before the intervention of other protesters intervened to protect her. In Toulon, two video journalists working for the Agence France Presse (AFP) received threats while filming clashes before eventually taking shelter in a restaurant. In Marseille, a video journalist from public TV channel France 3 and two photographers were insulted and prevented from working. In Toulouse, a journalist from the regional daily "La dépêche du Midi", insulted and threatened with rape by hooded "yellow vests", filed a complaint on Sunday 13 January. Sheltered in her car, she heard protesters shout "We'll get you out and rape you," reported on Twitter Lionel Laparade, one of the newspaper editors in chief. In Pau, a freelance journalist from the local media "C L'Info Pau", Franck Paillanave, was hit while reporting live. "Yellow vests" surrounded, showered him with insults, and then beat him. He said on Sunday that he would also file a complaint.
State replies
15 Feb 2019
Follow-ups
26 Feb 2019
The Commissioner for Human Rights sends a Memorandum to the French Government
28 Nov 2018
Recent attacks against journalists while covering protests are unacceptable. Journalists must be able to work, and inform the citizens on public demonstrations, safely.
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15 Jan 2019 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 13 Apr 2016 n° 48/2016 Montenegro

Freelance Journalist and Fixer Jovo Martinovic Tried for “Being a Member of a Criminal Organization”

Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
Partner RSF EFJ/IFJ
Partner RSF EFJ/IFJ
Mr. Jovo Martinovic worked as a non-exclusive part-time fixer for a French documentary film “The Route of the Kalashnikov”, aired in France on Canal+ on 4 January 2016. The film examines the illegal flow of weapons from Balkans. Part of Mr. Martinovic job involved helping trace underground weapons networks and included interacting with members of these criminal groups in the Balkans. Mr. Martinovic was arrested on 22 October 2015 in relation to this assignment. He is accused of being a member of a criminal organization and of trafficking drug. The arrest warrant was issued by High court in Podgorica after the request of the Special State Prosecutor's office. On 12 April 2016, he still was in custody, waiting for his indictment and trial. Mr. Martinovic has worked with several international media outlets including The Economist (UK), the Financial Times (UK) and M6 (France).
Updates
15 Jan 2019
On 15 January 2019, the Higher Court in Podgorica sentenced Jovo Martinovic to 1.5 years in prison for alleged “drug trafficking and membership in a criminal organisation”. The journalist rejected the charges which he considers politically motivated. The verdict was condemned by international media freedom organisations and organisations of journalists. Jovo Martinovic announced that he would appeal the verdict.
09 Jan 2017
On 5 January 2017, journalist Jovo Martinović was released pending trial. The Court ordered Martinović to check in with police twice a month, and confiscated his passport. As a consequence, the alert was changed to level 2.
State replies
07 Dec 2016
Reply from Montenegro provided by the Ministry of Justice
Follow-ups
09 Jan 2017
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media welcomes release of Montenegrin journalist and calls for conclusion of his case
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28 Dec 2018 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 28 Dec 2018 n° 146/2018 Turkey

Turkey: Prosecutor investigating TV anchor Fatih Portakal “for openly inciting others to commit a crime”, following criticism by the President

Source of threatState
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ CPJ
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ CPJ
On 28 December 2018, a Turkish Prosecutor launched investigation into Fox TV journalist and TV anchor Fatih Portakal, for “openly inciting others to commit a crime”, shortly after Turkish President repeatedly criticised the journalist for his comments.

The prosecutor's investigation comes after the journalist speculated whether Turks could protest like those in the Yellow Vest movement in France. Turkish President has targeted Fatih Portakal several times in December 2018. "Know your place. If you do not know your place, this nation will hit you in the back of your neck. Nobody can play games with my nation's honour. That would cost them dear", said Mr Erdoğan. Representatives from journalism organisations in Turkey harshly critised Mr Erdoğan's comments and said that they will hold the president accountable if anything happened to the journalist.
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06 Dec 2018 Lvl. 2
Resolved
Alert created on: 20 May 2016 n° 59/2016 France

The State of Emergency Permits a Ban on Journalists Covering Public Events

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ
Partner EFJ/IFJ
Under the Act of 20 November 2015 promulgating the state of emergency in France, journalists can be subject to travel restrictions which prevent them from covering certain public events. Thus, on Monday 16 May 2016, the photographer NnoMan received a prefectural order prohibiting him from covering an event on 17 May against the bill on labour laws in Paris. This decision was justified by the Prefecture of Police of Paris by the presence of the journalist “on a number of occasions, in particular during the demonstrations against police violence and the labour law reform bill," which escalated "into a serious disturbance of public order" according to the decree. On Tuesday 17 May, following multiple reactions from professional organisations and the civil society, the ban was lifted and the journalist was able to cover the event. The Prefecture was reported "to have ignored he was a journalist." Several French journalists' unions denounce the provision of the law on state of emergency that legally allows prefects to "prohibit the stay in all or part of the administrative division".
Resolved
06 Dec 2018: On 6 December 2018, taking into consideration the fact that the decree prohibiting the journalist to cover the event was cancelled, as notified in the French authorities’ reply to this alert, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be “resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.
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06 Dec 2018 Lvl. 2
Resolved
Alert created on: 12 Nov 2015 n° 95/2015 France

Journalist Attacked in Paris by Members or Supporters of the Jewish Defense League

Source of threatNon-state
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ Index
Partner EFJ/IFJ Index
On 22 October 2015, David Perrotin, journalist at Buzzfeed France, was attacked by around ten militants participating in a rally against the coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by Agence France Presse (AFP). The meeting was organised, among others, by the Jewish Defense League (JDL). In the early evening, David Perrotin came to the headquarters of the AFP, Place de la Bourse in Paris, to follow the event. After having discovered the presence of the reporter, activists decided to attack him. "Around ten young people, obviously members or supporters of the JDL, approached him wearing masks and hoods" says the editor of BuzzFeed France, Cécile Dehesdin. "Ten youngsters insulted him before chasing him and then beating him." Following police intervention, the journalist was sheltered in the headquarters of the AFP, which was protected by a row of policemen. David Perrotin filed charges against X the next day.
Resolved
06 Dec 2018: On 6 December 2018, after consideration of the authorities’ response to this alert, the partner organisations of the Platform declared this case to be "resolved”, concluding that it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.
Follow-ups
12 Nov 2015
OSCE Representative raises concern over attack of Buzzfeed journalist and threats to storm AFP offices in France, welcomes swift police action.
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06 Dec 2018 Lvl. 2
Resolved
Alert created on: 21 Nov 2017 n° 132/2017 France

Journalist Caroline Christinaz from “Le Temps” of Geneva Questioned by the Police While on a Reporting Assignment in France

Source of threatState
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ
Partner EFJ/IFJ
On 11 November 2017 Caroline Christinaz, a journalist for the Geneva desk of daily newspaper “Le Temps”, was sent on a reporting assignment covering the new routes taken by migrants. She was travelling in vehicles that were bringing migrants into France clandestinely when they were stopped at a police roadblock in Col de l’Echelle, in the south of the country. Christinaz was released on the spot, but she was nevertheless asked to report for questioning the following day at Briançon`s police station, where she was interrogated for two hours. Despite showing her press card to the police, her status of journalist working on a story was never accepted by the authorities, who immediately treated her as a suspect in a context of heavy mobilization of law enforcement agents aimed at sending back migrants in the region. The journalist stated that during the interrogation she was the subject of intimidation attempts by the agents and the prosecutor, who interrogated her as if she were a suspect, repeatedly asking her questions aimed at obtaining information on her journalistic sources.
Resolved
06 Dec 2018: On 6 December 2018, after consideration of the authorities’ response to this alert, the partner organisations of the Platform declared this case to be "resolved”, concluding that it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.
State replies
03 Apr 2018
Reply from the French authorities (in French only)
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06 Dec 2018 Lvl. 2
Resolved
Alert created on: 20 Nov 2017 n° 134/2017 France

2 France 5 Journalists Denied Access to President Macron During his Visit to Lille

Source of threatState
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ
Partner EFJ/IFJ
On 14 November 2017, journalist Tancrède Bonora and his videoreporter colleague were denied access to President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to the north of France. Both are working for the programme 'C à Vous’ of France 5 channel (which belongs to the public broadcasting group France Televisions). The reason cited by the presidential security services was the attendance of the two journalists at a demonstration held the day before and organised by the opposition movement, la France Insoumise, against certain government measures. When the reporters attempted to ask their questions to the head of state, they were physically removed by security agents who positioned themselves between the President and the journalists. Thus kept apart from other journalists, they were prevented from carrying out their report.
Resolved
06 Dec 2018: On 6 December 2018, after consideration of the authorities’ response to this alert, the partner organisations of the Platform declared this case to be "resolved”, concluding that it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.
State replies
03 Apr 2018
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06 Dec 2018 Lvl. 2
Resolved
Alert created on: 28 May 2018 n° 49/2018 France

Pro-Erdogan partisans try to have removed the cover of a weekly paper, critical of Erdogan, from a billboard

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner RSF EFJ/IFJ
Partner RSF EFJ/IFJ
On 25 May 2018, in the town of Pontet, a dozen people gathered around a newsstand in the city centre, demanding the removal from a billboard of the weekly magasine Le Point's front page which showed a portrait of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and titled "The Dictator".
These pro-Erdogan partisans threatened the owner of the newsstand, until an employee of the kiosk management company, under the pressure of the protesters, finally agreed to remove the cover of Le Point. Le Point is an independent newspaper. This is an act of intimidation by the AKP supporters against media in Europe likely to undermine their editorial freedom and an attempt to export censorship to other European countries.
The advertisement was put back in place on the next day in a tensed atmosphere, in the presence of security forces. According to the Point, a similar event was reported in the city of Valence.
Resolved
06 Dec 2018: On 6 December 2018, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be “resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.
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06 Dec 2018 Lvl. 2
Resolved
Alert created on: 07 Sep 2016 n° 105/2016 France

Zaman Newspaper Forced to Close French Editions

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ RSF
Partner EFJ/IFJ RSF
Zaman, the Turkish language newspaper published in France is to close its French editions. According to the editors of Zaman France, the newspaper was put under a lot of “pressure and had received threats and cancelled subscriptions. Since 15 July, we have received hundreds of threats per day". The Zaman Group is viewed as a pro-Gülen movement media, accused by the Turkish authorities of being the main actor behind the attempted 15 July coup. The French authorities did not act to ensure the safety of Zaman journalists working in France or protect the publication from verbal threats targeting advertisers and subscribers, resulting in its closure.
Resolved
06 Dec 2018: On 6 December 2018, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be “resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.
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13 Nov 2018 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 24 Sep 2018 n° 99/2018 France

Controversial "Election" of Agence France Presse CEO

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ
Partner EFJ/IFJ
The election of Fabrice Fries, former CEO of Publicis Consultants, to the presidency of Agence France Presse (AFP) on 12 April 2018 has been seen by several journalists' unions and by the AFP journalists' society as a dangerous political grip on this news agency ranked third in the world. A letter signed by three directors of the AFP and addressed to the Minister of Culture Françoise Nyssen argues that this "election" of a single candidate is a political parachute operation. They explain that the government's decision to withdraw its support for one of the two remaining candidates, Emmanuel Hoog, has led to the immediate withdrawal of Mr Hoog's candidacy to the advantage of Mr Fries. This had the effect of circumventing the rules of the usual process of selecting the future CEO. Fabrice Ries was in the end appointed CEO without obtaining the 13 votes necessary for his election, out of the 18 voting members of the board of directors of the agency.
Updates
05 Oct 2018
On 4 October, AFP CEO Fabrice Fries presented the Agency's Board of Directors with a "cost reduction" plan based essentially on a net reduction of 125 workstations (85 technical and administrative staff members, and 40 journalists).
State replies
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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”.