Isabelle Roughol – The J junkie

The tribulations of a young journalist and writer looking for work

French journalist Dasquié arrested, interrogated by secret service agents; how France in 40 hours negated its press freedom legacy

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Finals, jetlag and procrastination, I haven’t written in two weeks almost. I have returned to the homeland, and I’d like to share with you news of the latest infringement on press freedom in my dear country (that’s France, fyi). 

Guillaume Dasquié, journalist who specializes in intelligence reporting and editor of http://www.geopolitique.com, was arrested at home by DST agents (French equivalent of the FBI). My apologies for the delay; this happened Dec. 5. The following details are as explained by Mr. Dasquié on “Revu et corrigé,” a wonderful media watch programme on France 5, a channel of French public television.

DST agents went through the Dasquiés’ home for 5 hours, looking for documents that were leaked to him and that he used in writing his stories. In particular, they were looking for documents related to an article he wrote for Le Monde in April 2007 about what the French intelligence services knew before 9-11 about Al-Qa’ida and Bin Laden. He said he offered up all his documents because his job is about being transparent and he’s got nothing to hide. He was then taken to the DST headquarters for 40 hours for interrogation. 

In France, article 109 of the penal code gives journalists the right to protect their sources, i.e. France has a shield law. It’s actually not strong enough compared to European Union law, and changes are being discussed. When his interrogators asked for his sources, Mr. Dasquié claimed the protection of article 109. He should have then been released, but the assistant DA decided to keep him 24 more hours. “We need a name,” the assistant DA said. Under intense pressure, including threats of keeping him in jail through slow procedures until he got a trial and veiled threats on his children, Mr. Dasquié revealed the name of one intermediary source, he said, but kept his main source protected.

Mr. Dasquié explained that he found out he was targeted because his article, based on documents that did not come from an organized leak, made it look to U.S. intelligence agencies as though the French had given up some of their secrets. So in order to maintain good relations between the two nations, an honest journalist was made to feel that he was no longer able to perform his job. I like 24, but for entertainment only, not as a way to run a democracy.

Mr. Dasquié’s interview on “Revu et corrigé” is fascinating. If you speak French, see it below. If not, here’s just the final sentence translated for you.

I have worked in Algeria, Sudan, Yemen, and every time I left those countries thinking, “My God, the journalists who do my job there, how brave, what a pair of balls!” … I thought, “me, I do it in France because… I’ve got kids, but I live in a democracy. They can mess with me, pressure me, put me through tax audits and other petty things, but they can’t go too far.” That all fell apart. So of course, I gave up a name. And I told myself, I’m done doing this job like this, because proof is, I can’t do it anymore.   

Read more from Reporters without Borders.

  Revu et corrigé du 08 décembre 2007 (3) - France5Revu et corrigé du 08 décembre 2007 (3) – France5

Revu et corrigé du 08 décembre 2007 (3) – France5

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Written by Isabelle Roughol

Thursday, 20 December, 2007 at 22:12

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