Investigations

  • When French interior minister dined with anti-Semitic imam he now wants to expel

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    Gérald Darmanin (foreground) after his victory in municipal elections in Tourcoing, March 31st 2014. © Photo Franck Crusiaux / REA Gérald Darmanin (foreground) after his victory in municipal elections in Tourcoing, March 31st 2014. © Photo Franck Crusiaux / REA

    In a legal battle that began in July, France’s Council of State is to rule early next week on the legality of interior minister Gérald Darmanin’s order for the expulsion to Morocco of imam Hassan Iquioussen, accused of promoting anti-Semitism and opposition to gender equality, and acting as an apologist for terrorism. Mediapart can reveal that the high-profile, hardline interior minister in fact once enjoyed cordial relations with the imam when he sought to woo Muslim voters while campaigning for election as mayor of the town of Tourcoing, and when Iquioussen’s anti-Semitic diatribes were already known. Lou Syrah reports.

  • French 'fake news' firm was hired to report on Bulgarian anti-corruption journalist

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    Journalist Atanas Chobanov investigates corruption in Bulgaria from his base in France. © Illustration Justine Vernier / Mediapart Journalist Atanas Chobanov investigates corruption in Bulgaria from his base in France. © Illustration Justine Vernier / Mediapart

    France-based journalist Atanas Chobanov has been described as a 'bête noire' of Bulgaria’s oligarchs over his dogged investigations into high-level corruption in the Balkan country. French economic intelligence and cybersecurity firm Avisa Partners, whose clients include major corporations and dictatorial regimes and which is accused of manipulating online information, has confirmed to Mediapart it was commissioned by an agency it did not name to compile a report on the Bulgarian journalist. The firm insisted it later abandoned its enquiries and kept its “internal analysis report” in-house. Fabrice Arfi and Antton Rouget report.

  • Operation Fake Info: firm used by French business elites suspected of infiltrating Wikipedia

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     © Illustration Justine Vernier / Mediapart © Illustration Justine Vernier / Mediapart

    Mediapart has already revealed how a French firm that works for foreign directorships and the bosses of some of the biggest business groups in France, including billionaire Bernard Arnault, has been accused of manipulating information through various blogs, including on our own site. Today that same company, Avisa Partners, is suspected of having modified pages on the online encyclopedia Wikipedia on behalf of its powerful clients. Fabrice Arfi and Antton Rouget report.

  • Macron, Google and Amazon: the documents the Élysée wanted to stay secret

    By Alexandre Léchenet
    Emmanuel Macron with the operations director of Amazon in France, Ronan Bolé, right, during a visit to the Amazon warehouse at Boves close to Amiens in northern France, October 3rd 2017. © Photo Yoan Valat / Pool / AFP Emmanuel Macron with the operations director of Amazon in France, Ronan Bolé, right, during a visit to the Amazon warehouse at Boves close to Amiens in northern France, October 3rd 2017. © Photo Yoan Valat / Pool / AFP

    The Élysée cited business confidentiality when it refused to provide Mediapart with correspondence between presidential advisors and Amazon, Google and others giants of the digital world dating from 2017. However, Mediapart pursued the matter and after a lengthy process the administrative court in Paris found in our favour and we now have access to these documents. Like the recent 'Uber Files' controversy, they show just how closely aligned the thinking and approach of these technological groups is with that of Macron and his entourage. And also like the Uber case, they reveal that a business lobbyist from one of the groups – in this case  Amazon - took part in Emmanuel Macron's 2017 presidential campaign. Alexandre Léchenet reports.

  • Displaced: Maasai community forced to move as UAE elite use Tanzanian land for safaris

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    A demonstration in Nairobi, Kenya, on June 17th 2022, against the enforced eviction of the Maasai people in neighbouring Tanzania. © Photo Tony Karumba/AFP A demonstration in Nairobi, Kenya, on June 17th 2022, against the enforced eviction of the Maasai people in neighbouring Tanzania. © Photo Tony Karumba/AFP

    In early June around 30 indigenous Maasai people in the north-east of Tanzania were injured as they protested against being forcibly displaced from their ancestral lands. The authorities say the move is necessary to protect the area's extraordinary landscape and wildlife. But as Michael Pauron reports, lurking in the background to this affair are the interests of a private hunting company that has close ties to the royal family in Dubai. 

  • Mystery of vanishing emails as top Macron aide faces ongoing 'conflict of interest' probe

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     © Illustration Simon Toupet / Mediapart avec Ludovic Marin / AFP © Illustration Simon Toupet / Mediapart avec Ludovic Marin / AFP

    President Emmanuel Macron's key aide in the Élysée, his chief of staff Alexis Kohler, has faced two investigations into an alleged “conflict of interest” and “influence peddling” over his family links with major shipping line MSC. The first was dropped back in 2018 but another was launched in 2020 and is still ongoing. The current investigation has unearthed some troubling documents for Alexis Kohler, whose official title is secretary-general of the Élysée. Not only do they show him to have been far more involved than thought with issues involving MSC while working as a civil servant, some potentially important documents and emails have also vanished from certain locations - though they have been retrieved elsewhere – in what appears to have been an attempt to remove the paper trail of his interventions. Martine Orange reports on the continuing investigation into President Macron's right-hand man.

  • Judge reopens probe into France's role in Rwandan massacre

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    The Bisesero memorial in Rwanda, 2010. © Béatrice Mollaret / Photononstop via AFP The Bisesero memorial in Rwanda, 2010. © Béatrice Mollaret / Photononstop via AFP

    A French judge has unexpectedly decided to reopen an investigation into the massacre at Bisesero in Rwanda in June 1994 and the actions of the French military in relation to it. This bloody event, part of the Hutu genocide against the Tutsi people, is seen as one of the most embarrassing episodes for France during the entire genocide. The investigating judge is reopening the case following an independent commission's report on the Rwandan genocide that was delivered to President Emmanuel Macron in March 2021. That commission, led by historian Vincent Duclert, said France bore “serious and overwhelming responsibilities” for events in Rwanda. Fabrice Arfi reports.

  • How French foreign minister Catherine Colonna was appointed despite 'bullying' alerts

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    Catherine Colonna when she was French ambassador to Italy, in her office in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome on December 12th 2014. © Photo Eric Vandeville / Abaca Catherine Colonna when she was French ambassador to Italy, in her office in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome on December 12th 2014. © Photo Eric Vandeville / Abaca

    Alerts concerning the new French foreign minister's behaviour were sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' dedicated 'zero tolerance' anti-bullying unit at the start of 2022, a few months before she was appointed, according to Mediapart's information. An inspection by the ministry's internal inspectorate was due to be carried out at the French embassy in London where Catherine Colonna was ambassador at the time. That review has since been postponed. Ellen Salvi reports.

  • French minister Damien Abad faces new claims of sexual violence

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    Damien Abad at the first meeting of ministers in Élisabeth Borne's new government at the Élysée, May 23rd 2022. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart Damien Abad at the first meeting of ministers in Élisabeth Borne's new government at the Élysée, May 23rd 2022. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart

    The new minister for solidarity and the disabled has been accused of rape by two women, claims he has strongly denied. Now Mediapart has spoken to a third woman who says that he tried to rape her at a party at his home in Paris in 2010. Damien Abad, who was appointed to the new government under Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne on May 20th this year, did not directly respond to Mediapart's questions about these latest allegations but has “categorically” denied them in a statement. Meanwhile the issue has dogged the final days of the legislative election campaign ahead of the crucial second round of voting on Sunday June 19th. Marine Turchi and Ellen Salvi report.

  • Haiti: the dark history of French colonial banks resurfaces

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    The Banque nationale d’Haïti (National Bank of Haiti) in Port-au-Prince, pictured in 1910. © Archives The Banque nationale d’Haïti (National Bank of Haiti) in Port-au-Prince, pictured in 1910. © Archives

    In its recent powerful investigation into the exploitation of Haiti by France in the colonial past, The New York Times highlighted the predatory role played by the bank Crédit Industriel et Commercial. In fact, reports Laurent Mauduit, all French colonial banks practiced this same pillaging system of exploitation in Asia, Africa and the Antilles.