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France23 January 2008

Lawyers want “defence secret” case against journalist withdrawn for violating free expression

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(JPEG) The lawyers of journalist Guillaume Dasquié, who was charged last month with “compromising a defence secret” and was held for 34 hours in an attempt to make him reveal the source of a leak, are going to request that the proceedings against him be voided on the grounds that they violate free expression and the confidentiality of journalists’ sources.

“We support this initiative by Dasquié and his lawyers, especially as it explicitly invokes the principle of freedom of expression as the reason for having the charges withdrawn” Reporters Without Borders said. “The French courts will have to decide if the proceedings against him are in line with French law and the legal precedents set by the European Court of Human Rights, especially as regards the protection of journalists’ sources.”

The organisation added: “Investigative journalism is doomed if sources are not protected. This is why French legislation must evolve and why this principle must be incorporated into the 1881 press law. We have approached the government on this issue and we are working with it to fill this gap.”

Dasquié told Reporters Without Borders that in the past fortnight he has had access to the report of the preliminary investigation into his case. The approximately 2,000 pages of the report consist largely of details of phone calls he made and received.

Co-founder and editor of the political news website Géopolitique.com and a commentator for Le Monde and France Info, Dasquié was arrested on 5 December and held for 27 hours at the Paris the headquarters of the Directorate for Territorial Surveillance (DST), an intelligence agency.

(JPEG)

During this time, he was pressured to say how he obtained a copy of a “confidential defence memo” for “strictly national use” written in 2000 or 2001 by the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE), France’s CIA equivalent, which summarised what the French intelligence services then knew about Al-Qaeda.

Dasquié quoted from the report in an article in the daily Le Monde on 17 April headlined: “The French knew a lot about 9/11.”




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