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France accused of attack on press freedom after journalist arrest

Ariane Lavrilleux, a French reporter, was arrested and her home searched on Tuesday in connection with a report two years ago by online media outlet Disclose that said French intelligence was being misused by Egypt, according to Reuters.

Human rights activists opposed the arrest of a journalist who authored a report that said French intelligence intended to track jihadist fighters had been misused by Egypt to target smugglers on the Libyan border and kill civilians. Following the publication of the report, the French Minister of Armed Forces launched an investigation.

Lavrillet’s lawyer, Virginie Marquet, notes that her client is being questioned as part of a national security compromise investigation. The interrogation is being conducted by a judge and police officers from the French intelligence service DGSI. Marquet told Reuters:

“It’s a rather uncommon procedure. It goes up a notch when it comes to coercive measures against journalists.”

The DGSI did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Ariane Lavrilleux writes on X:

In-depth – ‘How children in Sisi’s Egypt are turned into political prisoners’ https://t.co/1Hv2FxCJXW — The New Arab (@The_NewArab) February 20, 2021

Two years ago, Disclose published dozens of classified documents that it believes show misuse of intelligence provided to Egypt. It is noted that Disclose also previously reported on other confidential deals between Paris and Cairo.

The Egyptian government made no comment after the report was published.

The documents contain alleged communications from concerned individuals warning superiors that their information was being used to bomb civilians. Katia Roux of Amnesty France said:

“We’re very worried. To put in police custody a journalist for doing her job, moreover for revealing information of public interest, could be a threat to freedom of the press and confidentiality of sources.”

Reporters Without Borders and other human rights organisations also condemn the arrest of the journalist.

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