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France26 March 2009

Two website journalists summoned for questioning about Sarkozy video

Reporters Without Borders is disturbed to learn that Pierre Haski, the editor of the French news website Rue89, and one of his reporters, Augustin Scalbert, have been summoned for questioning by an anti-crime unit, the BRDP, on 1 April in connection with a video of President Nicolas Sarkozy talking informally to TV studio staff before an interview without realising he was being recorded.

“We condemn this escalation by the police and judicial authorities in cases involving the protection of journalists’ sources,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Nicolas Sarkozy promised to for reinforce the protection of sources during his 2007 presidential election campaign but nothing has so far been done. Not only is a bill concerning this matter still awaiting its second reading in the National Assembly but there has also been a steady increase in judicial attempts to get journalists to reveal their sources.”

The video showed President Sarkozy in the studio of France 3’s 19/20 programme on 30 June 2008 expressing irritation with a technician for his perceived impoliteness. It became available almost immediately on Rue89 and other websites and was seen by hundreds of thousands of Internet users.

After France 3 filed a complaint alleging “theft, receiving stolen property and piracy” on 8 July, the Paris prosecutor’s office immediately asked the BRDP to investigate. At the same time, the France 3 management launched an internal investigation.

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