Christophe Castaner

The rise of a new terrorist threat in France: the ultra-right

France — Investigation

A report by prosecutors in Paris warns about the return of a terrorist threat from the ultra-right, Mediapart can reveal. Based on an analysis of seven separate investigations into allegations of terrorist conspiracies, the report details the groups' professionalism, their ability to arm themselves and the varied profiles of the activists, some of whom are highly-integrated members of society. Matthieu Suc and Marine Turchi report.  

'I'm suffocating': the final words of Cédric Chouviat, arrested by French police

France — Investigation

On January 3rd 2020 deliveryman Cédric Chouviat, aged 42, was stopped on his scooter as part of a routine roadside police check in Paris, arrested, put in a chokehold then held face down on the pavement. His own mobile phone reveals that seven times he repeated the words “I'm suffocating” before falling unconscious and later dying. The episode inevitably has echoes of the American George Floyd whose last words when being held down by a police officer in Minneapolis were “I can't breathe”.  These revelations about the final words of Cédric Chouviat, contained in a report seen by both Mediapart and Le Monde, will put even greater pressure on the authorities to shed light on the nature of the arrest and the controversial techniques used by the French police to restrain the father-of-five. Pascale Pascariello reports.

French police to end practice of chokeholds

France — Link

France's police force is to end using chokeholds as a technique to immobilise people, interior minister Christophe Castaner on Monday, although the controversail practice of officers pressing down on the chest of a person on the ground, and which is alleged to have caused deaths during arrests, remains legal. 

French minister details virus lockdown measures

France — Link

French interior minister Christophe Castaner on Monday evening provided further details on the nationwide lockdown of the population announced earlier by President Emmanuel Macron, adding that 100,000 police officers would be deployed to ensure the public only left their homes for reasons that should be justified by a written statement, downloaded from an official website and signed, or face a fine of up to 135 euros. 

The spies left out in the cold: the Brexit dilemma for Europe’s intelligence community

International — Investigation

The British and French intelligence agencies are deeply concerned that their close bilateral cooperation, notably on counter-terrorism activity, remains intact after the UK leaves the European Union. But they are fearful of the consequences, especially in the case of a hard Brexit, when, the EU warns, “The UK will be disconnected from all EU networks, information systems and databases” concerned with police and judicial cooperation. Matthieu Suc reports.

Minister says recent arrest foiled 9/11-style attack planned in France

France — Link

French interior minister Christophe Castaner said an individual 'inspired by the events of September 11th and the planes which destroyed the World Trade Center towers' had recently been arrested by intelligence services for planning a similar attack in France.

French interior minister under pressure after Paris knife attack

France — Link

A right-wing senator accused Christophe Castaner of failing in his duties and called for him to step down as a 'matter of national security'.

The inevitable tragedies as French government turns a blind eye to police violence

France — Opinion

Over the course of recent months, the French government has continued to deny the mounting evidence of unwarranted violent behaviour by police, notably during the rolling ‘yellow vest’ protests when an 80-year-old woman died after being hit by a teargas grenade fired at her window and hundreds of people, both demonstrators and bystanders, have been injured, many seriously. Last month, a 24-year-old man went missing after he fell into the Loire river in Nantes, in north-west France, during a police charge on a group partying to music on a quayside. In this opinion article, Mediapart’s Michaël Hajdenberg argues why, by refusing to condemn the abuses and even lending legitimacy to them, the executive has created a dangerous situation in which further tragic events appear inevitable.

France’s anti-fake news law fails test over interior minister’s false claims


A newly introduced French law designed to combat the proliferation of false information on social media which may manipulate elections was tested this month for the first time, but not in the manner the government foresaw when it devised the legislation. Two communist politicians lodged a demand, under the articles of the law, for the removal of a message posted on Twitter by French interior minister Christophe Castaner, who falsely claimed that May Day demonstrators had attacked a Paris hospital and its staff. Géraldine Delacroix reports on how they lost their case, but won their demonstration that the law, as they put it, “serves no purpose”.

The French government's lies over May Day 'attack' on Paris hospital

France — Investigation

The Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris has been at the centre of a major controversy after incidents that took place there in the aftermath of this year's annual May Day demonstrations. Throughout the evening of May 1st and into the following morning, several members of the government and senior health managers in Paris insisted the well-known hospital had been “attacked” by violent demonstrators. Yet in fact there was no such attack: instead, a few dozen protestors sought refuge in the hospital's buildings to escape police tear gas and charges. There was no threatening behaviour from protestors towards hospital staff and none of them damaged the premises. However, some were later hit by the police. Now interior minister Christophe Castaner has formally retracted his use of the word “attack”. Dan Israel reports.

'Yellow vest' protesters challenge claims they 'attacked' Paris hospital

France — Link

Demonstrators from a march who entered the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital said they were just seeking refuge from tear gas fired by police.

France says it has foiled 'major' terrorist attack

France — Link

French police source said four suspects had been arrested on suspicion of acquiring weapons 'with a view to committing a terrorist act'.

UN condemns French police violence against 'yellow vests'


The United Nations has followed the European Parliament in criticising the policing of some demonstrations staged by 'yellow vest' protestors in France. The UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned what she called the “excessive use of force” used by the police on some occasions. The criticism came after interior minister Christophe Castaner's terse response to opposition MP Loïc Prud’homme after the latter was hit with a baton during a yellow vest protest last Saturday March 2nd in Bordeaux. Carine Fouteau reports.

Up to 130 French jihadists could be repatriated from Syria

International — Link

Interior minister reported as saying fighters of French origin could be repatriated from Syria as US forces withdraw from that country.

French government raises stakes on school security after pupil points 'gun' at teacher


A recent video showing a pupil pointing a pistol – later discovered to be fake - at his teacher in a school in France went viral. The government called an urgent meeting of senior ministers to work out a plan of action to tackle violence in France's schools, amid talk that the police might be asked to patrol in some establishments. Detailed policies are expected to be announced soon. But as Manuel Jardinaud and Faïza Zerouala report, this tough rhetoric, which recalls the days of Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency, has not gone down well with many teachers.