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France4 September 2007

Judges conclude probe into Clearstream leaks, case could be dismissed

A probe into alleged violations of judicial secrets in the so-called Clearstream affair, which included an attempt to search the offices of the Paris-based satirical magazine Canard Enchaîné in May, was concluded by two judges last week without anyone being charged, a judicial source has confirmed to Reporters Without Borders.

If none of the parties to the affair requests additional enquiries within 20 days, the prosecutor’s office is expected to dismiss the case.

“We hope the judicial authorities will dismiss the case soon and we reiterate our active support for journalists who refuse to reveal their sources, like those at Canard Enchaîné who resisted a search on 11 May,” the press freedom organisation said. “The confidentiality of sources must be maintained for investigative journalism to survive.”

The Clearstream affair involves a bogus list of beneficiaries of alleged defence contract kickbacks that were supposedly laundered through the Luxembourg clearing bank Clearstream. Nicolas Sarkozy’s name was included on the list with the apparent aim of sabotaging his ambition to succeed Jacques Chirac as president.

Investigating judge Thomas Cassuto went to Canard Enchaîné’s offices on 11 May to conduct a search, but the journalists there refused to let him in. Cassuto had been hoping to establish whether the newspaper was faxed a copy of the statement which Gen. Philippe Rondot, an intelligence official, gave to investigators in the Clearstream case last year.

At the same time, a search was carried out at the law offices of Thierry Herzog, Sarkozy’s personal lawyer, in a bid to find out whether copies of this and other confidential documents had been faxed from there to the newspaper.

Cassuto and another judge, Françoise Desset, were asked to investigate at the behest of then justice minister Pascal Clément after details of Gen. Rondot’s confidential notes and statements were published in the French press between 14 April and 12 May 2006.

Read Reporters Without Borders 11 May 2007 press release

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