06 Dec 2018 Lvl. 2
Alert created on: 13 Jul 2017 Belgium

Attempted Intimidation of Journalists Investigating the Samusocial Scandal

Source of threatNon-state
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ Index RSF
Partner EFJ/IFJ Index RSF
On 12 July 2017, the Belgian Parliamentary Committee investigating the Samusocial financial scandal revealed an attempt at intimidating journalists working for the weekly newspaper “Le Vif” and RTBF, the public broadcasting organisation of the French-speaking community in Belgium. The journalists were investigating the affair following revelations from an MP of the opposition, Alain Maron (Ecolo Party).
The president of the non-profit association Samusocial, Michel Degueldre, sent an email on 25 May to the Head of Communications and the three operational managers of Samusocial asking them to launch “a thorough investigation on the life, academic background, habits, beliefs, friends, families of the two star journalists at Vif and RTBF and the Ecolo MP”. Michel Degueldre specified that he would like to “better understand their motivations, connections and potential aspirations.The time for being nice is over”.
The Association of Professional Journalists (AJP) has condemned Degueldre`s methods, highlighting his “clear intention to hurt and attack journalists”. RTBF has declared its “outrage and indignation for such actions which touch upon the private lives of our colleagues and their families”.
06 Dec 2018: During the hearing of the Brussels Parliament's Investigative Committee Michel Degueldre apologised for his email. In March 2018, based on the conclusions drawn from the investigation, the Brussels Parliament adopted the report on the Samusocial, including on the part regarding financial irregularities. 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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