France: EFJ Denounces Latest Attack on Protection of Sources

The European

Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the European group of the International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ), today expresses its deepest concern following

a further violation of the law on protection of sources in France, reportedly

ordered by the French authorities.

"For the second time in recent months, the law on protection of sources

has been grossly violated in France, apparently on the orders of the highest

leaders of this country, in spite of their responsibility for ensuring the

implementation of the laws to ensure freedom of the press," said EFJ

President Arne König.

The French daily Le

Monde announced its intention to lodge a new complaint "against X" [a complaint against unknown people

according to French law] after the police requested access to detailed phone bills

of two journalists of this newspaper, Jacques Follorou and Gérard Davet, about

the "Bettencourt" court-case. However, Article 77-1-1 of the Code of Criminal

Procedure requires the prosecutor to obtain permission from reporters before

seeking to access their detailed bills.

On 20 September, Le Monde had already brought a complaint for breach of

confidentiality of sources. The paper claimed the Executive Branch of the

National Police (DGPN) and services of the DCRI, the intelligence services, had

spied on Le Monde to try to discover the source of the newspaper in the Woerth-Bettencourt

case. 

The EFJ

denounced  the French government in September about the first case of

breach of confidentiality of sources on Le Monde (http://europe.ifj.org/en/articles/efj-condemns-actions-by-french-government-against-journalists-rights)

The protection of journalistic sources is the cornerstone of press freedom in

Europe, defined by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and

enshrined as such by the constant case-law of the European Court of Human

Rights (ECHR). In France, a special law was enacted on 4 January 2010,

stipulating that it was illegal to attempt "to discover the sources of a

journalist by investigations on any person who, because of its usual

relationship with a journalist, may hold information identifying these

sources".

The EFJ is worried by these successive and repeated attacks against the law on

protection of sources in France:  in addition to Le Monde, the case

of journalists working for Le Point and L'Equipe are currently

being examined by the ECHR. The EFJ and the Syndicat National

des Journalistes (SNJ) have submitted comments to these cases under the

third party intervention.

This latest

complaint "against X" supported by the SNJ and the SNJ-CGT follows

the lawsuit brought by the online

media Médiapart in defamation against the Secretary General of the

ruling party, Xavier Bertrand

The EFJ says

that, though protected under the law across Europe, the confidentiality of

sources, is undermined in practice in many countries in the name of "state

security" through abuse of power and especially thanks to technology that

allows the tracing of electronic communications. The EFJ has organised a

roundtable in London on 21 September in order to define common strategies in

Europe.

For

more information, please contact the EFJ at 32 2 235 2200

The

EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists in 30 countries in Europe