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French journalist arrested for reporting on espionage operation in Egypt

France was accused of an “unacceptable” attack on press freedom on Tuesday after the arrest of a journalist for publishing leaked documents claiming that French intelligence services had been used to target civilians in Egypt.

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The investigative site Disclose published a series of articles in November 2021 based on hundreds of secret documents.

They show how information from a French counter-espionage operation in Egypt, codenamed “Sirli”, was used by the Egyptian state for “a campaign of arbitrary assassinations” against smugglers operating along the Libyan border. .

On Tuesday, the home of journalist Ariane Lavrilleux was raided and she was arrested for questioning by agents of the DGSI, France’s domestic intelligence service, Disclose reported on X (formerly Twitter).

He denounces an “unacceptable attack on the secrecy of sources”, an opinion quickly shared by the Society of Journalists and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

“We fear that the DGSI’s action will undermine the secrecy of sources,” says RSF.

Lavrilleux’s arrest was confirmed to AFP by a source close to the case.

“I am dismayed and worried by the multiplication of attacks on freedom of information and the coercive measures taken against the Disclose journalist,” declared Virginie Marquet, lawyer for Lavrilleux and Disclose.

“This search risks seriously undermining the confidentiality of journalists’ sources,” she said, adding that Lavrilleux had “only revealed information of public interest.”

Disclose’s initial reporting indicated that French forces were complicit in at least 19 bombings against smugglers between 2016 and 2018 in the region.

The documents show there were warnings from French government officials, but the operation was not questioned, Disclose said.

The Ministry of the Armed Forces filed a complaint for “violation of national defense secrecy” following the publication of the article, and a file was opened in July 2022 by the Paris prosecutor’s office, then entrusted to the DGSI.

(with AFP)


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