27 Jun 2019 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 05 Mar 2019 n° 21/2019 France

Attempt to Search Mediapart's Newsroom

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ
Partner EFJ/IFJ
On 4 February 2019, at around 11 a.m., two officials of the Paris Public Prosecutor's Office, accompanied by three police investigators, arrived at Mediapart’s premises to carry out a search as part of a preliminary investigation opened by the Paris Public Prosecutor's Office on charges of "breach of privacy" and "unlawful possession of technical devices that may allow the interception of telecommunications or conversations". The investigative journalists present opposed the search citing the protection of journalists' sources.

In an article, Mediapart suggests that information provided by the Prime Minister's Office led the Paris Public Prosecutor's Office to decide to open a preliminary investigation, and considers that the measure does not strike the necessary balance between the prosecution of criminal offences and the protection of sources. Following the request for documents from the investigating judge in charge of the violences committed on 1 May 2018, the journalists then handed over seven recordings, without endangering their sources.

The preliminary investigation follows the publication on 31 January 2019, on the Mediapart website, of new information about the "Macron-Benalla case", which weakens the defence of Emmanuel Macron's former deputy to the President’s office chief of staff, Alexandre Benalla. It focuses on the conditions under which such information could be obtained.

The case began in July 2018, with the disclosures by the daily Le Monde, which accused Alexandre Benalla of having usurped the functions of police officer after molesting a couple of demonstrators on 1 May 2018. The case then highlighted dysfunctions within the Elysée with new information suspecting, in particular, Alexandre Benalla of having concluded a contract with a Russian oligarch on behalf of his own company, while he was working at the Elysée.
Updates
09 Apr 2019
On 5 April 2019, Mediapart took legal action against the state before the Court of Paris, in liability for gross negligence that caused "abnormal, special and particularly serious damage".
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