When French PM’s communications chief served Saudi interests

By
Mayada Boulos, communications advisor to the French prime minister, seen here at the Élysée Palace on June 29th 2020. © Ludovic MARIN / AFP Mayada Boulos, communications advisor to the French prime minister, seen here at the Élysée Palace on June 29th 2020. © Ludovic MARIN / AFP

Mayada Boulos, communications advisor to French Prime Minister Jean Castex, was in charge of a PR campaign to promote Saudi Arabian interests during her previous job with advertising and public relations group Havas. The campaign was on behalf of a foundation created and chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the kingdom who a US intelligence report released last week said had approved the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Antton Rouget reports.

Sarkozy conviction reveals the forest of corruption in France

By
Nicolas Sarkozy arriving at the court in Paris on Monday 1st March 2021. © Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP Nicolas Sarkozy arriving at the court in Paris on Monday 1st March 2021. © Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

The significance of the conviction of former president Nicolas Sarkozy in the 'Paul Bismuth' phone tap affair goes wider than one case, says Mediapart's Fabrice Arfi. It highlights the extent to which France is a country is riddled with corruption.

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy found guilty of corruption in phone tap affair

By
Nicolas Sarkozy arriving at the court in Paris on Monday 1st March 2021. Nicolas Sarkozy arriving at the court in Paris on Monday 1st March 2021.

The former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was found guilty by a Paris court on Monday March 1st 2021 of corruption and influence peddling in the case known as the 'Paul Bismuth affair'. The ex-head of state was handed a three-year prison sentence with two of them suspended, though it appears unlikely he will serve time in jail and his lawyer said he will appeal against the conviction. It is the first time in French legal history that a former president of the Republic has been convicted of such serious crimes. The case stemmed from judicially-approved telephone taps of conversations between Nicolas Sarkozy and his friend and lawyer Thierry Herzog, who has also been convicted in the case. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan reports, with additional reporting by Ilyes Ramdani.

The 'final straw': why French singer Médine is suing an MP over 'Islamist rapper' claim

By
Médine released his first album '11 septembre, récit du 11e jour' ('September 11, account of the 11th day') in 2004. © Fifou Médine released his first album '11 septembre, récit du 11e jour' ('September 11, account of the 11th day') in 2004. © Fifou

In an interview with Mediapart, the French rapper Médine explained why he is suing Member of Parliament Aurore Bergé of the ruling La République en Marche party for defamation after she described him as an “Islamist rapper” and accused him of “incitement to murder”. He told Mediapart: “She's ascribing an ideology to me which obviously isn't mine. It's the final straw. I'm hoping for a conviction and a public apology.” Ismaël Bine reports.

Paris mayor puts President Macron on spot over refusal to order new lockdown

By
President Emmanuel Macron and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo on July 24th 2020. © Franck Fife/AFP President Emmanuel Macron and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo on July 24th 2020. © Franck Fife/AFP

The city authorities in Paris, led by mayor Anne Hidalgo, have suggested that the French capital and surrounding region be put under a new lockdown to tackle the worsening Covid-19 virus situation there. This has piled pressure on President Emmanuel Macron who has been described by some as the country's “epidemiologist-in-chief” and who has so far resisted growing calls for a lockdown not just in the capital but across France. As Ellen Salvi reports, the Paris authorities are effectively asking a question that the head of state's supporters are refusing to countenance: what if the French president has got it wrong?

How France's crackdown on 'separatism' has played into hands of Turkey's Erdogan

By
Emmanuel Macron and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the NATO summit on December 4th 2019. © CHRISTIAN HARTMANN / POOL / AFP Emmanuel Macron and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the NATO summit on December 4th 2019. © CHRISTIAN HARTMANN / POOL / AFP

President Emmanuel Macron has championed measures against Islamic 'separatism' in French society, and legislation on the issue is currently going through the country's Parliament. This controversial move has handed Turkey's combative president Recep Tayyip Erdogan a fresh opportunity to portray himself as the leading Muslim leader standing up against Western Islamophobia. But as Nicolas Cheviron reports from Istanbul, behind the geopolitical considerations, Franco-Turkish Muslims have genuine concerns about the new measures in France.

The buried dark secrets of the ‘Sisters of the Good Shepherd’

By Sarah Boucault
Éveline Le Bris, one of the alleged victims of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, pictured here at its institution in Angers, north-west France, July 21st 1963. © SB Éveline Le Bris, one of the alleged victims of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, pictured here at its institution in Angers, north-west France, July 21st 1963. © SB

During the 1950s and 1960s in France, thousands of young girls considered to be from problem backgrounds were placed in care in institutions run by the nuns of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, a Catholic order whose vocation was to ensure their welfare. A recently created association of those once sent to the hostels is now demanding recognition and compensation for the violence they say they suffered at the hands of the nuns, including physical and mental abuse and forced labour. But, as Sarah Boucault reports, the order is proving less than enthusiastic at opening up its potentially incriminating archives to public scrutiny.

The Myanmar Project: young local reporters brave the military crackdown

By
Anti-coup protestors gather in a mass demonstration in the centre of Yangon, February 12th 2021. © Collectif The Myanmar Project Anti-coup protestors gather in a mass demonstration in the centre of Yangon, February 12th 2021. © Collectif The Myanmar Project

The civilian protest movement in Myanmar against the military coup of February 1st continued on Monday, when a general strike was held and hundreds of thousands again took to the streets of major towns and cities, including the capital Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon and Mandalay, despite the junta's warnings against a “confrontation path where they will suffer the loss of life”. A group of young journalists in Myanmar, a collective called The Myanmar Project, have spent the past three weeks documenting the unfolding events across the country. Here, under cover of anonymity, they tell Laure Siegel what motivated them and how they go about their reporting.

'An enormous suffering': the French magistrates struggling with child incest cases

By

The French parliament this week began debating draft legislation aimed at strengthening the legal arsenal against the sexual abuse of minors, including raising the age of consent for sexual relations with an adult and introducing heavier sentences. The subject of sexual abuse of children has come to the fore in France following a series of revelations concerning high-profile individuals, the latest of which has prompted a movement on social media under the hashtag ‘#MeTooInceste’. Cécile Andrzejewski hears from magistrates about the difficulties of prosecuting incestuous sexual abuse of children, and why so many cases are simply dropped.

Diplomatic cable shows France allowed Rwandan genocide perpetrators to escape

By
Alain Juppé, French foreign affairs minister in 1994, seen here in May 2020 at France’s Constitutional Council where he now sits. © JOEL SAGET / AFP Alain Juppé, French foreign affairs minister in 1994, seen here in May 2020 at France’s Constitutional Council where he now sits. © JOEL SAGET / AFP

In July 1994 in Rwanda, immediately after the fall of the murderous Hutu regime that had led the genocide of hundreds of thousands of the minority ethnic Tutsi population, a group of regime officials, including its president, had fled into a “safe zone” controlled by the French army. A document now discovered in official archives in Paris proves that the French government knew of the presence of the regime officials, but instead of detaining them it organised their escape out of Rwanda. The document, a cable sent from the office of then French foreign minister Alain Juppé, was signed by the current head of the French foreign intelligence agency, the DGSE. Fabrice Arfi reports.

Why potentially millions of doses of mRNA Covid vaccines are lost in the vials

Syringes for the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are readied for the first phase of vaccinations at a teaching hospital in Strasbourg, north-east France, January 8th. © Claude Truong-Ngoc / Wikimedia Commons / cc-by-sa-4.0 Syringes for the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are readied for the first phase of vaccinations at a teaching hospital in Strasbourg, north-east France, January 8th. © Claude Truong-Ngoc / Wikimedia Commons / cc-by-sa-4.0

The messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines against Covid-19 infection are apparently highly effective, but they are also in too short supply to meet current demand. In France, doctors have found that vials of the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna contain more than the indicated number of doses. By collecting the dregs of the bottles, there is the potential of producing millions more doses from existing supplies. But the French health authorities are refusing to authorise the practice. Joseph Confavreux and Caroline Coq-Chodorge report.

French court to rule on landmark case of 22 firemen accused of raping a child

 © Video Mediapart © Video Mediapart

France’s highest appeal court, the Cour de cassation, on Wednesday examined the case of Julie, a young woman who accuses 22 Paris firemen of raping her over a two-year period when she was aged between 13 and 15. The accused claim the child consented to the sexual relations, and at the end of a ten-year investigation just three of them face trial for sexual abuse after criminal charges of rape were dropped. The Cour de cassation will announce its ruling on March 17th when Julie, and the feminist and child protection associations supporting her cause, hope the case against the accused will be amended to rape. For Julie, who agreed to be interviewed by Mediapart, the future decision of the Cour de cassation represents her last chance to seek justice.

 

What the Sanofi saga tells us about the state of France's industrial strategy

By
A Sanofi distribution centre at Val-de-Reuil in Normandy. © Joel Saget/ AFP A Sanofi distribution centre at Val-de-Reuil in Normandy. © Joel Saget/ AFP

The French pharmaceuticals firm Sanofi has been in the headlines recently because of its setbacks in producing a vaccine against Covid-19, which will not now be ready until the end of 2021 at the earliest. Yet the group has nonetheless decided to go ahead with its restructuring plans and will be trimming back on its research while also moving many of its production plants into a separate company to be sold off. France is now paying the price for having abandoned its industrial and research strategies over the last thirty years. Martine Orange investigates.

The fear and rising anger of French job centre staff after colleague was shot dead

By Cécile Hautefeuille
Two women lay flowers at the Pôle Emploi branch in Valence on January 29th 2021, a day after the murder of a supervisor there. © PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP Two women lay flowers at the Pôle Emploi branch in Valence on January 29th 2021, a day after the murder of a supervisor there. © PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

On Thursday January 28th a supervisor at a Pôle Emploi employment centre in south-east France was shot dead, sending a shock wave of alarm through all branches of the government agency. Staff had already seen growing violence and tension in their branches from disgruntled job seekers, a discontent that has been further fuelled by the Covid-19 crisis and its impact on the economy. As Cécile Hautefeuille found out, fear among job centre staff is now rapidly turning to anger.

How French interior minister Gérald Darmanin shifted his line of defence in rape claim probe

By and
Denies the claims: interior minister Gérald Darmanin. © THOMAS COEX / AFP Denies the claims: interior minister Gérald Darmanin. © THOMAS COEX / AFP

Mediapart has had access to new information in the current investigation into rape allegations against France's interior minister Gérald Darmanin, claims that date back to 2009. Some documents we have seen contradict parts of his defence. The file also shows that when he was questioned by the investigating judge in mid-December 2020 the minister - who denies the claims - changed his version of events over a key exchange of SMS messages, in which the complainant accuses him of having “abused his position”. And in addition the minister gave new explanations to justify some of the more embarrassing aspects of the case. Antton Rouget and Marine Turchi report.