UPDATE: French Journalists Questioned Over Classified Military Leak Could Face Jail Time And Fines
On Monday, World at Large reported on the story of three French journalists who, after managing to get a hold of a classified military report on the sale of French weapons to Saudi Arabia et al. and their direct impact on the one-sided conflict in Yemen which has produced the greatest humanitarian disaster in the world, were taken in for questioning by the General Directorate for Internal Security, the French version of our FBI.
According to The Intercept, the three journalists Geoffrey Livolsi and Mathias Destal, co-founders of a French Journal called Disclose, along with Radio France reporter Benoît Collombat, were asked about their work, their sources, and their reporting on top-secret military intelligence over social media platforms.
While press freedoms in France have been well-protected for over a 100 years, a 2009 law on the prohibition of attacks on national defense secrets makes no exceptions on journalists for the doling out of punishments. As such, the journalists could face 5 years in prison and fines exceeding $75,000 dollars.
“They want to make an example of us because it’s the first time in France that there have been leaks like this,” Disclose co-founder Livolsi told The Intercept on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the French Armed Forces Minister, Florence Parly said that Disclose had violated “all the rules and laws in our country”.
The DGSI could close the case and let the journalists off with a warning. handing it off to a judge, who could conduct further investigations and possibly decide to take the case to a trial would be another possible fate. According to a legal representative of Disclose, the government of France has sent “a chilling warning”.
Made en France
Amnesty International reports three investigative journalists, Geoffrey Livolsi and Mathias Destal at a journal called Disclose, and Benoît Collombat with Radio France, have been summoned before a court this week in the opening stages of a preliminary investigation into leaked military documents.
Using the leaked documents, the journalists put together an incredible presentation called “Made in France,” explaining how all manner of French-made military equipment was discretely sold to Saudi Arabia and the UAE during their ongoing half-war, half-catastrophe in Yemen, and what impact they’ve had on the civilian population.
Incredibly, the leaks revealed that during a meeting on October 3rd, 2018 consisting of senior military officials and French President Emmanuel Macron, reports and maps were produced which detailed not only the tragic results of their use, but the precise locations of the French-made weapons on the battlefield.
These included heavy munitions like artillery shells, bombs, aircraft, mobile artillery pieces, and tanks.
The documents demonstrate the remarkable danger these armaments pose to the Yemeni civilians which have been written off as collateral damage time and time again in strikes by the coalition of Sunni-Muslim and select western nations including France and the United States.
According to CPJ, there are currently no journalists imprisoned in France. It could be that the investigation will focus more on defining the leak rather than prosecuting the journalists. However this is also illegal, and given that Made in France also details how a redacted version of the Yemen Papers was given to the parliament at large, excluding the maps and ledgers, it would seem unlikely that Macron and his military cabinet would want something like Made in France to ever happen again.
Amnesty International has drafted a letter of support for the three French journalists, which you can read and sign.