Following disturbing recent incidents of espionage, break-ins and intimidation targeting the French press, and notably this website, editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel reveals here what Mediapart has discovered about official attempts aimed at destabilising journalists involved in investigations, notably the Bettencourt affair, that have embarassed President Nicolas Sarkozy. Some of the accounts beggar belief. He calls here for politicians and institutions to stand up an be counted for in defending the essential right that is the freedom of information.
In May, 2002, eleven French naval engineers died in a bomb attack in the Pakistani port of Karachi, where they had been helping to build three submarines sold by France to Pakistan in 1994. The ongoing Paris-based judicial investigation into the murders is working on the theory that they were murdered in revenge for the non-payment by France to intermediaries of huge cash kickbacks. It has found evidence suggesting the kickbacks may have also involved illegal political funding in France. Central to this allegation are the presidential election campaign expenses of former prime minister Edouard Balladur, for whom Nicolas Sarkozy was campaign spokesman and which are due to be the subject of a second judicial investigation. Both deny any wrongdoing. However, Mediapart reveals how France's top administrative court smothered evidence suggesting the contrary.
Claire Thibout is a former accountant to L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt and Clymène, the company that manages the billionaire's wealth. Her exclusive interview with Mediapart this summer, reproduced here in English, had the effect of a political bombshell in France. Thibout notably alleged that numerous French politicians, including Nicolas Sarkozy, pocketed gifts of cash-stuffed envelopes during their visits to the Bettencourt home.
On May 8th, 2002, a group of 11 French naval engineers died in a bomb attack in the Pakistani port of Karachi. They had been helping with the construction of three Agosta 90 attack submarines, sold to Pakistan by France in 1994. An ongoing French judicial investigation into the blast is now working on the theory the murders were in retaliation for the non-payment by France of huge cash kickbacks promised to secure the deal. But evidence increasingly suggests that the bribe money was also ultimately destined for illegal political party funding in France.
Bernard Kouchner was French foreign affairs minister until the reshuffle. It was a largely undignified departure for the former Socialist Party bigwig and humanitarian aid pioneer. In this article first published in September, Thomas Cantaloube, with help of ministry insiders, charts the demise of a man who ended his career as an ineffectual minister serving his former political adversaries.