01 Aug 2019 Lvl. 2
Alert created on: 25 Apr 2019 n° 43/2019 France
Three Journalists Summoned for Compromising National Defense Classification
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.
27 Jun 2019
On 28 May 2019, Michel Despratx was heard by the DGSI as a witness, without a lawyer’s assistance. He claimed the protection of sources.
24 Jun 2019
On 23 May 2019, government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye justified on "Europe 1" the summoning of journalists to the DGSI, stating that “the identity of an agent who belongs to the special forces must not be revealed”, and that the State had to protect “some data” essential to “external defense and military activities”.
19 Jun 2019
On 14 May 2019, Geoffrey Livolsi was questioned by the DGSI and asserted his right to silence.
17 Jun 2019
On 7 May 2019, during a National Defense and Armed Forces Committee hearing, Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, stated that French arms exports were essential to “keep the viability of our defense industry”, and asserted that the equipment sold to Ryad and Abu Dhabi was not used “against civilians” in Yemen.
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.
01 Aug 2019
Reply from the French authorities