Investigations

  • How a 'digital army' paid for by French club Paris Saint-Germain smeared its opponents online

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    Some of the Tweets from PSG's 'digital army'. © Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart Some of the Tweets from PSG's 'digital army'. © Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart

    An external agency paid by the Qatari-owned Paris club created an “army” of fake Twitter accounts which then carried out aggressive and foul-mouthed online smear campaigns, in particular against the media and some of the Paris football club's own leading figures. Mediapart and the sports newspaper L’Équipe were among the main targets. This “digital army” even had a go at PSG's French star Kylian Mbappé. Clément Fayol and Yann Philippin report.

  • Gaddafi funding probe: more revelations from Sarkozy ally’s hard disk

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    Nicolas Sarkozy and Thierry Gaubert. © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart avec AFP Nicolas Sarkozy and Thierry Gaubert. © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart avec AFP

    The French judicial investigation into the suspected illegal financing of Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential election campaign by the regime of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi has found new evidence pointing to the organisation of the alleged funding on computer files belonging to Thierry Gaubert, a close friend and political ally of the former French president. In this second of a two-part report on the discovery, Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske detail more about the findings and their implications.

  • What the hard disk of close Sarkozy ally reveals about the Gaddafi funding affair

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    Nicolas Sarkozy and Thierry Gaubert. © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart avec AFP Nicolas Sarkozy and Thierry Gaubert. © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart avec AFP

    In what appears to be a significant development in the French judicial investigation into the suspected illegal financing of Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential election campaign by the regime of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the probe has discovered evidence pointing to the involvement in the alleged funding of Thierry Gaubert, a longstanding friend and political ally of the former French president. This centres on the contents of a computer hard disk belonging to Gaubert, seized in 2011 in a separate case concerning him, and which have only now come to light. In this first of a two-part report, Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske detail the findings and their implications for Sarkozy.

  • Key Gaddafi aides add new evidence in Sarkozy funding investigation

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    Clockwise from top left: Muammar Gaddafi, Nicolas Sarkozy, Bashir Saleh, Cécilia Attias with Mabrouka Sherif, Claude Guéant and Thierry Gaubert. © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart avec AFP Clockwise from top left: Muammar Gaddafi, Nicolas Sarkozy, Bashir Saleh, Cécilia Attias with Mabrouka Sherif, Claude Guéant and Thierry Gaubert. © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart avec AFP

    Bashir Saleh, the former chief of staff to the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, has given a statement to the public prosecution services of Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Unity saying that he was informed how Nicolas Sarkozy directly asked Gaddafi for “help” with his 2007 presidential election campaign. The prosecutors have also obtained a detailed statement from Gaddafi’s personal secretary, Ahmed Ramadan, on precisely how the regime allegedly financed Sarkozy’s bid. In this second part of a series of three reports, Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report on the latest developments in the French judicial investigation into the suspected illegal funding.

  • Sarkozy’s ex-wife ‘staggered’ at findings of Libyan funding probe

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    Clockwise from top left: Bernard Squarcini, Cécilia Attias, Nicolas Sarkozy, Muammar Gaddafi, Thierry Gaubert and Brice Hortefeux. © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart avec AFP Clockwise from top left: Bernard Squarcini, Cécilia Attias, Nicolas Sarkozy, Muammar Gaddafi, Thierry Gaubert and Brice Hortefeux. © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart avec AFP

    Cécilia Attias, the former wife of Nicolas Sarkozy, was interviewed in June as a witness by police acting under the authority of a judicial investigation into the suspected illegal funding of her then husband’s 2007 presidential election campaign by the regime of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. During the four-hours of questioning, she was notably unflattering about several of the former president’s close entourage, and described evidence from the probe that was presented to her as, variously, “staggering”, “surreal” and “ugly”.  Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report. 

  • Kingdom of modern slavery: the plight of migrant workers preparing Qatar for World Cup

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     © Illustration Simon Toupet / Mediapart © Illustration Simon Toupet / Mediapart

    Forced labour, working without pay, excessive working hours in sweltering heat ... despite several reforms brought in by the emirate's authorities under pressure from human rights groups, the migrant labourers working flat-out to ensure the gas-rich state of Qatar is ready to host November's World Cup finals are still enduring appalling conditions. Rachida El Azzouzi reports from Doha on the plight of the workers just two months before the tournament kicks off.

     

  • Sex, blackmail and videotapes: extraordinary saga of a French mayor's plot against his own deputy

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    Mayor Gaël Perdriau, his deputy Gilles Artigues and Pierre Gauttieri. © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart avec AFP et MaxPPP Mayor Gaël Perdriau, his deputy Gilles Artigues and Pierre Gauttieri. © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart avec AFP et MaxPPP

    Prosecutors have begun a criminal investigation after Mediapart revealed claims that the mayor of Saint-Étienne in south-east France, Gaël Perdriau, blackmailed his deputy mayor Gilles Artigues using a videotape of the latter with a male escort in an hotel room. The apparent aim of the blackmail was to ensure that Perdriau, who is from the right-wing Les Républicains (LR), maintained political control over his deputy Gilles Artigues, a devout Catholic and former Member of Parliament from the centre-right UDI party. After the initial revelations Mediapart then published extracts from recordings which revealed both Gaël Perdriau and his chief of staff threatening the deputy mayor over the sex tape. Both men, along with three others, have now been questioned in custody by detectives. Antton Rouget reports on an affair that has provoked widespread condemnation across the political spectrum.

  • 'Rafale Papers': French judges face military secrecy hurdles over probe into sale of fighters

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    Dassault Aviation's headquarters at Saint-Cloud ,west of Paris. © Dassault Aviation Dassault Aviation's headquarters at Saint-Cloud ,west of Paris. © Dassault Aviation

    French judges are leading an investigation into claims of corruption surrounding the 7.8-billion-euro sale to India in 2016 of 36 Dassault-built Rafale fighter aircraft. But four months after searching the headquarters of the French defence and aviation group, investigators were refused access by France's Ministry of the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to classified documents concerning the contract negotiations. Yann Philippin reports.

  • French judge seeks key to Élysée archives over arms deal during Rwanda genocide

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    Paul Barril, pictured here in 1994. © Photo Lehr / Sipa Paul Barril, pictured here in 1994. © Photo Lehr / Sipa

    A Paris-based judicial investigation into alleged “complicity in genocide” by Paul Barril, a former commander of the elite GIGN gendarmerie intervention squad, is now seeking access to the classified archives of a military chief of staff to late French president François Mitterrand. In May 1994, Barril signed a 3.1-million-dollar weapons deal with Rwanda’s extremist Hutu regime during its slaughter of up to a million of the country’s Tutsi population. The investigation is seeking to establish whether Barril was furthering his own interests or, unofficially, those of France. Fabrice Arfi reports.

  • How the probe into the 2016 massacre in Nice proved the killer was a terrorist

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    Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel in a selfie he took on July 14th 2016 on the Promenade des Anglais hours before committing the massacre. © Document Mediapart Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel in a selfie he took on July 14th 2016 on the Promenade des Anglais hours before committing the massacre. © Document Mediapart

    On July 14th 2016, in the French Riviera city of Nice, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel ran a heavy truck into and over crowds celebrating Bastille Day, taking the lives of 86 people and injuring hundreds of others, before he was shot dead by police. The 31-year-old Tunisian had a history of mental problems and violence, raising the question of whether his act was solely that of a deranged individual. As the trial begins in Paris of eight people accused of helping him prepare the attack, Matthieu Suc details how the judicial investigation established beyond doubt that Lahouaiej-Bouhlel's hideous crime was that of a terrorist, long drawn to jihadism.