freedom of the press

Judge slaps gagging order on Mediapart investigation


A Paris judge has imposed a gagging order on Mediapart which prohibits it from publishing new revelations in its investigation into the highly questionable political practices of Gaël Perdriau, mayor of Saint-Étienne. The Mediapart investigation has previously revealed the blackmailing of the town’s deputy mayor, a rival of Perdriau's, using a compromising ‘sex tape’ video. As Mediapart’s publishing editor Edwy Plenel details here, the gagging order, which was made at the request of Perdriau and without allowing Mediapart any legal opportunity to oppose it, is an unprecedented attack against the freedom of the press in France. 

Bettencourt 'butler tapes' ruling strikes victory for press freedom and right to know


In a landmark ruling on Tuesday, five journalists from Mediapart and French weekly news magazine Le Point, together with the former butler of L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, were cleared of invasion of privacy charges relating to the publication of the contents of secretly-recorded conversations between the billionaire and her close entourage of legal and financial advisors. The publication of the contents of the tapes, which lifted the lid on a web of corruption and manipulation, contributed to “debates of public and societal interest” and “without entering into elements of private life and family conflicts”, concluded the magistrates in Bordeaux following the trial of the six defendants last November. The full text of their ruling is presented in this report by Mediapart legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan.

A victory for press freedom as Dassault loses his legal action against Mediapart


In a significant legal ruling that upholds the rights and freedom of the press, a Paris court has thrown out a lawsuit for invasion of privacy launched against Mediapart  by French industrialist, media tycoon and Senator Serge Dassault (pictured left).  The billionaire had attempted to obtain the censorship of recordings published by Mediapart and which reveal his complicity, in his own words, in funding electoral fraud. As Mediapart editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel writes here, the court’s ruling announces a halt to the attacks on press freedom witnessed in two remarkable and absurd judgments concerning this website's reporting in the Bettencourt  affair.

Recovering the honour of the press


The programme of the national council of the French Resistance movement, established in March 1944, demanded not only the guarantee of freedom of the press but also the respect of “its honour”, namely its “independence regarding the State [and] the power of capital”. The challenge for Mediapart when it was created four years ago, on March 16th 2008, was to put into practice those ideals and to prove their continued relevance today, writes Mediapart Editor-in-Chief, Edwy Plenel. That challenge was met, but the task now is to keep them solidly alive over the long term.

French prosecutor in Bettencourt affair illegally spied journalists' phone calls


Senior French public prosecutor Philippe Courroye (pictured) acted illegally when he spied on journalists' phone calls and SMS records in order to identify their sources while they were reporting the L'Oréal-Bettencourt affair, France's highest court has ruled. It is a severe blow for Courroye, widely regarded as an ally of President Nicolas Sarkozy and who now faces being formally placed under investigation - one step short of charges being brought - for "collecting information of a personal nature by use of fraudulent, foul or illicit means". Michel Deléan reports.