Mediapart refused a highly unusual attempt by prosecutors in Paris on Monday morning to search its editorial offices as part of an investigation that notably cites a breach of the personal privacy of Alexandre Benalla, the disgraced controversial former security aide to President Emmanuel Macron. He was sacked and placed under formal investigation last summer after video footage emerged of him and ruling LREM party security manager Vincent Crase using violence on protestors during demonstrations in Paris on May 1st. The new prosecution services’ probe follows Mediapart's revelations last week of extracts from a compromising conversation between Benalla and Crase, who met in violation of their conditional bail, which raise wider questions over Benalla’s actions while employed by the presidency, and also his relationship with the president. Mediapart exercised its legal right to refuse the raid on the grounds of protecting the identity of its sources.
France's highest appeal court, the Cour de Cassation, has rejected an appeal by former president Nicolas Sarkozy in a case against Mediapart relating to the authenticity of a key document showing he was promised Libyan funding for his 2007 election campaign. The judgement, published on Wednesday January 30th, means that the former president can no longer evade the election funding scandal revealed by this site, says Mediapart's publishing editor Edwy Plenel.
After almost one year in office, French President Emmanuel Macron gave a live interview on Sunday evening with Mediapart’s cofounder and publishing editor Edwy Plenel and Jean-Jacques Bourdin of French rolling news channel BFM-TV. The wide-ranging two-hour interview, the French president’s first public appearance since France joined the US and Britain in missile strikes this weekend against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, was streamed live on Mediapart (with studio debates from Mediapart before and after the interview) and can be replayed here (click on screen, in French only). Together with the video in French of the full interview, arguably the first uncompromising quizzing of a French head of state, follow the highlights in English here (click on headline for article page).
In recent days Mediapart has been burnt at the metaphorical stake for having supposed “complicity” with the Muslim intellectual and Oxford University professor Tariq Ramadan. Worst still, it has been hinted that this site may have deliberately ignored the actions of a man who today stands accused of rape and sexual assault, claims he denies. This ignominious Donald Trump-style campaign, led by former prime minister Manuel Valls, is part of a wider political movement which brings together elements of the Left who were destroyed at recent elections and the nationalist Right. Mediapart's editor François Bonnet responds to the claims.
Bullets and threatening letters have been sent to four judges plus journalists at two media organisations, including Mediapart. Of the judges who have been singled out, one is the head of the national financial crimes prosecution unit, and the other three are the judges who have been designated to investigate the 'fake jobs' allegations involving right-wing presidential candidate François Fillon and his wife Penelope. The other media outlet that received a threatening letter and a .22 calibre Long Rifle bullet was Le Canard Enchaîné, the weekly investigative newspaper that first broke the Fillon story. Matthieu Suc reports.
Mediapart has been notified by the French tax administration that it must pay a total of 4.1 million euros in an adjustment of its VAT payments over a six-year period between 2008 and 2014. The adjustment comes after Mediapart’s long campaign, finally vindicated by a law introduced in 2014, calling for the discriminatory 20% VAT rate for the online press to be removed and aligned to the 2.1% VAT rate applied to the print-based press. Mediapart, which openly applied the lower VAT rate amid years of discussions over the issue with the administration and government, must now meet the demand for the backpayments immediately, despite an appeal procedure. Mediapart editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel explains the background to what appears to be a move of vengeance, and appeals here for your support in face of the severe threat now hanging over this independent online journal.
This week, five journalists, including Mediapart editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel and Mediapart investigative reporter Fabrice Arfi, stand trial in Bordeaux on charges relating to the violation of personal privacy. The case centres on the publication by Mediapart in 2010 of extracts of secretly recorded conversations between L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt and her entourage of advisors which revealed a catalogue of corruption and manipulation surrounding the ageing billionaire and which led to the convictions of eight people earlier this year. Here, Fabrice Arfi denounces a trial that flouts press freedom laws and threatens the fundamental 'right to know'.
Move comes as documents show that US agents spied on Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, listening to their phone calls.
It took three years, but Mediapart has finally been vindicated in its fight for full transparency when it comes to scrutinising the campaign accounts of French elections. The highest administrative court in the land, the Conseil d'État, has ruled in favour of Mediapart's demand that the entire process of how election accounts are checked by the official body in charge – the CNCCFP - should be open to the public. The ruling means that whatever the election and whoever the candidate the public has a right to know the full details. Mathilde Mathieu reports on this landmark verdict.
Mediapart celebrates its seventh anniversary on March 16th, writes Mediapart editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel. As always at this period, we are publishing our accounts for the last financial year, in a process of transparency that should be the rule for all the press whose mission is to inform in the name of public interest.
On Wednesday February 25th, lawyers representing the French billionaire and senator Serge Dassault announced they were withdrawing an appeal against a ruling that Mediapart had been justified in publishing details of secretly-made tape recordings involving the industrialist. In those recordings Dassault, who also owns a newspaper group, appears to confess to handing out large sums of cash to ensure his preferred candidate won an election. As Mediapart's editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel points out, not only is Dassault's decision to stop the appeal a victory for press freedom in France, the outcome also makes a mockery of the decision by another court to ban Mediapart from using any content from the tapes at the heart of the Bettencourt affair.
France’s highest court the Cour de Cassation has upheld the ruling that censored Mediapart's coverage of the Bettencourt affair. The decision confirms that more than 70 articles detailing the secret recordings made by the Bettencourt family's butler must remain suppressed, even though the revelation of the content of these very recordings has led to a string of scandals and high-profile judicial investigations. Editor François Bonnet says that faced with this anti-freedom stance by the top French courts, who have given the right to privacy complete precedence over the public's right to know, Mediapart has no choice but to appeal to Europe.
Barely two days after Mediapart revealed the content of the phone taps placed on Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president has responded with an extraordinary outburst in the right-wing Le Figaro newspaper. In an angry comment article Sarkozy likened the actions of judges and the police in placing the phone taps to those of the notorious Stasi secret police who operated in communist East Germany. The ex-head of state also mocks the interior minister and justice minister for saying they knew nothing of the bugging, and says the French Republic's “fundamental principles” have been “trampled underfoot”. The government has been swift to respond to allegations that are unprecedented for a former head of the French state, with one minister accusing Sarkozy of a “verbal coup d'état”.
In France, the online press is officially subject to a VAT rate of 19.6%, while the printed press is subject to a VAT rate of 2.1%. This discriminatory tax on the online press has been dismissed as an injustice by successive governments over the past five years, leading to a suspension of its collection by the tax authorities. Mediapart, which with other online press organizations has led a high-profile campaign to have it removed, has for several years openly adopted the same VAT rate as the printed press. But suddenly, the tax authorities this month demanded that Mediapart pay the VAT rate of 19.6%, with backpayments due on every year since it launched in 2008. It has now been informed of the first tax adjustment, concerning the years from 2008 to 2010. Here, editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel details the gigantic sums demanded, and why this sudden and rushed move is plainly designed to put this wholly independent online journal, whose revelatory investigations have shaken administrations past and present, to the sword.