Macron ally quits Paris mayoral bid over sex videos

By and
Benjamin Griveaux announcing he was stepping down from the Paris mayoral elections, February 14th. © Lionel Bonaventure / AFP Benjamin Griveaux announcing he was stepping down from the Paris mayoral elections, February 14th. © Lionel Bonaventure / AFP

Benjamin Griveaux, 42, the candidate for mayor of Paris chosen by President Emmanuel Macron’s LREM party, stood down from the race on Friday after the online publication by a controversial Russian artist living in asylum in France of sexually explicit videos featuring the former government spokesman. Griveaux’s withdrawal is a major blow for the French president’s ruling party, already struggling in opinion surveys ahead of nationwide municipal elections in March.

'Abominor', the unsung French spy who infiltrated the Islamic State group

By
Abominor: “Snitching is not my thing, I’m a man.” © Ulys Abominor: “Snitching is not my thing, I’m a man.” © Ulys

Over several years, the French intelligence services gained vital information about the activities of the so-called Islamic State group thanks to a man who infiltrated its terrorist network. A Muslim who became a spy by chance, he risked his life by befriending jihadists, and notably helped to foil two planned terror attacks. Matthieu Suc reveals the story of an unsung hero, codenamed Abominor.

Chinese tourists in France face outbreak of racism over coronavirus

By
Tourists from Asia in front of the Château de Chambord in the Loire Valley. © JP Tourists from Asia in front of the Château de Chambord in the Loire Valley. © JP

The beautiful châteaux of the Loire Valley in western France are a major attraction for visitors from China. But both individual Chinese tourists and those in groups are starting to suffer as a result of the fears provoked by the current coronavirus outbreak which began in mainland China. Jordan Pouille reports.

French police violence back under spotlight amid Paris-Warsaw row

By
A police officer takes aim with a rubber bullet weapon during a 'yellow vest' protest in Paris, December 8th 2018. © Karl Laske A police officer takes aim with a rubber bullet weapon during a 'yellow vest' protest in Paris, December 8th 2018. © Karl Laske

Visiting Poland this week, French President Emmanuel Macron slammed the country’s government over its moves to take control of the judiciary, denouncing a “negation of European political principles”. In a tit-for-tat move, Polish members of the European Parliament launched a petition denouncing French police violence in recent demonstrations as “unjustified brutality against protestors exercising their civil rights”. The row has escalated through the week, and returned the spotlight to crowd policing methods in France, already the subject of outspoken concern from international bodies, and which over the past year have left hundreds injured, many seriously. Ellen Salvi reports.

The collateral upset of Brexit for Europe's Greens

By

The withdrawal of the UK from the European Union this month was accompanied by the departure of the 73 British members of the European Parliament. The vacuum and partial redistribution of seats has caused a significant upset for the assembly’s Green members, who now find themselves overtaken in numbers by the far-right, reducing their budget and above all their clout in voting on legislation, notably regarding the raft of future policy measures for the Commission’s major “Green Deal” programme. Amid this collateral damage from Brexit, the Greens are urgently seeking new alliances, even eyeing a deal with Italy’s populist Five Star Movement. Ludovic Lamant reports from Brussels.

Fugitive suspect in Sarkozy-Gaddafi funding probe jailed in France

By and
Alexandre Djouhri, pictured in London on February 26th 2019. © Niklas Halle'n/AFP Alexandre Djouhri, pictured in London on February 26th 2019. © Niklas Halle'n/AFP

One of the key suspects in the marathon judicial probe into alleged funding of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign by the regime of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was this weekend placed in preventive detention in France after losing a two-year legal battle to avoid his extradition from Britain. French judges have formally placed Alexandre Djouhri under investigation for nine alleged offences, including “active corruption”, aiding and abetting, and receiving, the proceeds of the “misappropriation of public funds”, “money laundering the proceeds of corruption”, “forgery and the use of forgeries” and “tax fraud”. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

Qatar 2022: Sarkozy aide memos point to Élysée deal

By and
Nicolas Sarkozy (l) and Michel Platini in Geneva, May 28th 2010. © Reuters Nicolas Sarkozy (l) and Michel Platini in Geneva, May 28th 2010. © Reuters

Key documents seen by Mediapart shed new light on the award of the 2022 football World Cup to Qatar. The documents, written to then French president Nicolas Sarkozy by his sports advisor, relate to a lunch that took place at the Élysée Palace in 2010, just days before the crucial vote to decide the tournament’s host country. They reveal that the then boss of European football ruling body UEFA, Michel Platini, had been “reluctant” to back the Gulf state, but had been convinced to switch his vote to it by the end of the meeting with the French president and key figures from Qatar. Yann Philippin and Antton Rouget report.

Carlos Ghosn and his taste for spooks

By
Carlos Ghosn during a press conference in the Lebanese capital Beirut, January 8th 2020. © Joseph Eid/AFP Carlos Ghosn during a press conference in the Lebanese capital Beirut, January 8th 2020. © Joseph Eid/AFP

Former Renault chief executive and Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn's secret escape from Japan on December 29th, when he was allegedly smuggled out of the country in a musical instrument box by hired former special services veterans, was as dramatic as his arrest there one year earlier on charges of serious financial misconduct. But the manner of his flight bore all the hallmarks of the use over two decades by the one-time titan of the world’s carmaking industry of private security personnel, both to spy on his staff but also shareholders and board members. Mediapart's Matthieu Suc, author of a recent book detailing Ghosn’s seeming obsession with surveillance, reports.

Glenn Greenwald: 'Bolsonaro wants to recreate a climate of pressure and fear'

By
Facing charges: Glenn Greenwald. © Reuters Facing charges: Glenn Greenwald. © Reuters

US journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has become a thorn in the side for Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, is accused by the Brazilian prosecution services of “facilitating the commission” of cybercrime, alleging that he “helped, encouraged and guided” mobile phone hacking. The move, vigorously contested by Greenwald, centres on the revelations by the online investigative publication he co-founded and co-edits, The Intercept Brasil, about a vast corruption scandal in the South American country. In this interview with Mediapart’s US correspondent Mathieu Magnaudeix, Greenwald denounces the increasing attempts, in Brazil but also around the world, to “criminalise” journalism.

Witness implicates Élysée over disappearance of shamed Macron aide's missing safe

Alexandre Benalla (left) with President Emmanuel Macron in April 2018. © CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP Alexandre Benalla (left) with President Emmanuel Macron in April 2018. © CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

A key witness in a judicial investigation into the disappearance of a safe belonging to President Emmanuel Macron’s disgraced former security aide Alexandre Benalla has this week given a statement to police that he saw two Élysée Palace staff in possession of the safe, together with Benalla, hours after the latter was forced into hiding in July 2018, Mediapart can reveal. The witness said he was told that the contents of another safe in Benalla's Élysée office and emptied at around the same time contained “sensitive” information relating to both Macron's election campaign and personal matters. Fabrice Arfi, Antton Rouget and Marine Turchi report.

Football Leaks whistleblower to stand trial on 90 charges and faces 25-year jail term

By and miguel prado (expresso)
Rui Pinto. © AFP Rui Pinto. © AFP

At a court appearance in Lisbon this month, Rui Pinto, 31, the Portuguese whistleblower behind Football Leaks, the largest ever exposé of documents and correspondence detailing widespread criminal behaviour in the world of professional football, ranging from fraud and tax evasion to match-fixing and political corruption, was ordered to stand trial on 90 charges related to his alleged hacking activities, when he will face a maximum sentence of 25 years in jail. Yann Philippin and Miguel Prado report.

Thomas Piketty, Aurélie Filippetti and the buried 'domestic violence' case

By
Thomas Piketty. © Reuters Thomas Piketty. © Reuters

Late last year, the acclaimed French economist Thomas Piketty, a best-selling author for his work centred on wealth and income gaps, hailed by the Left and spurned by the Right, gave a conference at the university of Toulouse, south-west France, when he was surprised by a question from a student. It concerned a complaint for domestic violence filed against him in 2009 by his former partner, then a socialist MP and later culture minister, Aurélie Filippetti. His response prompted Filippetti to lodge a new complaint, this time for defamation, which has had the effect of breaking a decade-long taboo among the French media and political circles. Lénaïg Bredoux reports.

Why an international investigation into Haiti aid scandal is urgent

By
A camp for Haitians made homeless by the 2010 quake. © Reuters A camp for Haitians made homeless by the 2010 quake. © Reuters

This week marked ten years since a devastating earthquake hit the impoverished Caribbean state of Haiti, when up to 300,000 people were killed and 1.5 million others were left homeless. The ensuing reconstruction programme drew billions of dollars in aid, but also led to massive corruption. Mediapart co-founder and former editor François Bonnet, who has regularly reported on the tragedy in Haiti, details the fiasco and argues here why a thorough investigation into the gigantic scams must be led under the auspices of the UN, and those found responsible must be prosecuted. Nothing less can restore confidence in international institutions – beginning with the UN itself.

French filmmaker Ruggia placed under investigation for 'sexual assault' of actress when a child

By
Placed under investigation: Christophe Ruggia. © DR Placed under investigation: Christophe Ruggia. © DR

French filmmaker Christophe Ruggia was on Thursday placed under formal investigation for “sexual assault of a minor” following an investigation opened by the Paris public prosecution services into actress Adèle Haenel's allegations, revealed by Mediapart, that she was sexually harassed by Ruggia over a period when she was aged between 12 and 15.

French police quiz filmmaker over actress Adèle Haenel's claims of sexual harassment when a minor

By
Adèle Haenel during a live interview with Mediapart on November 4th 2019. © Mediapart Adèle Haenel during a live interview with Mediapart on November 4th 2019. © Mediapart

French filmmaker Christophe Ruggia was arrested and taken into custody by police in Paris for questioning on Tuesday as part of investigations into “sexual assault of a minor” and “sexual harassment” prompted by actress Adèle Haenel’s interview with Mediapart last November. That interview, and Mediapart’s investigation into her claims that when she was aged between 12 and 15 she suffered “constant sexual harassment”, repeated “touching” of her thighs and body and “forced kisses on the neck” from the director rocked French cinema and prompted the industry to announce changes in its working regulations. In previous statements to Mediapart, Ruggia has denied wrongdoing. Marine Turchi reports.