French journalist Ariane Lavrilleux was searched and placed in police custody on Tuesday as part of an investigation for “violation of national defense secrecy”. She revealed in 2021 that the French intelligence mission “Sirli”, started in February 2016 for the benefit of Egypt in the name of the fight against terrorism, had been hijacked by the Egyptian state which used the information collected to carry out strikes aerial attacks on suspected smugglers’ vehicles on the Egyptian-Libyan border.
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The secrecy of sources called into question? Journalist Ariane Lavrilleux, at the origin of revelations at the end of 2021 on a possible Egyptian hijacking of a French intelligence operation in the country, was searched and placed in police custody on Tuesday, September 19, announced the media Disclose, which published his article at the time.
“Search in progress at the home of Disclose journalist Ariane Lavrilleux. Police officers from the General Directorate of Internal Security (DGSI) have placed our journalist in police custody. A new unacceptable attack on the secrecy of sources,” denounced on X the investigative media Disclose.
A source close to the case confirmed to AFP that an investigating judge was currently carrying out these operations, “given her status as a journalist”.
These take place as part of a judicial investigation in progress since July 2022, opened by the Paris prosecutor’s office for compromise of the secret of National Defense and disclosure of the identity of soldiers and entrusted to the DGSI, confirmed this source. .
“I am appalled and worried about the escalation in attacks on freedom of information, and the coercive measures taken against the Disclose journalist,” reacted Me Virginie Marquet, lawyer for Ariane Lavrilleux and the investigative media.
“Unacceptable obstruction of the freedom to inform”
“This search risks seriously undermining the confidentiality of journalists’ sources, which I can legitimately fear has been completely violated since this (Tuesday) morning. Disclose will protect its journalist who has only revealed information of interest public,” she added.
Many media outlets and journalists, notably several Societies of Journalists (SDJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF), expressed their indignation on the social network, citing an “unacceptable obstacle to the freedom to inform” and a “denial of democracy” a few weeks before the States General of Information promised by the Élysée.
Disclose had claimed in an article published in November 2021 that the French intelligence mission “Sirli”, started in February 2016 for the benefit of Egypt in the name of the fight against terrorism, had been hijacked by the Egyptian state which used the information collected to carry out airstrikes on suspected smugglers’ vehicles on the Egyptian-Libyan border.
According to documents obtained by Disclose, “French forces were allegedly involved in at least 19 bombings against civilians between 2016 and 2018” in this area. Despite the concerns and warnings of certain officials about the excesses of the operation, the French authorities have not called into question the mission, according to Disclose, citing secret documents.
Following this publication, the French Ministry of the Armed Forces filed a complaint for “violation of national defense secrecy”. A preliminary investigation was opened in November 2021 before an investigating judge was appointed in the summer of 2022.