Investigations

  • Why new Omicron variant highlights the urgent need to lift vaccine patents

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    The Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine being deployed in front of a voting booth in Soweto, November 1st 2021, during local elections in South Africa. © Photo Michèle Spatari / AFP The Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine being deployed in front of a voting booth in Soweto, November 1st 2021, during local elections in South Africa. © Photo Michèle Spatari / AFP

    The emergence of the new variant of Covid-19 called Omicron should serve as a wakeup call to rich countries that unless the whole world is given access to vaccines the pandemic is doomed to continue. Instead, the new variant was given as the reason why a key meeting at the World Trade Organisation to debate the temporary lifting of intellectual property rights on vaccines was postponed indefinitely. Rozenn Le Saint reports on the anger of French activists at the lack of progress on what they see as a key issue in tacking the pandemic in poorer countries.

  • French scientist who championed anti-malaria drug for Covid-19 accused of falsifying test results

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    Le professeur Didier Raoult, IHU de Marseille. © Christophe Simon/ AFP Le professeur Didier Raoult, IHU de Marseille. © Christophe Simon/ AFP

    Staff working under French microbiologist Didier Raoult, who last year attracted worldwide attention, and notably from Donald Trump, with his claims that the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was an effective medication for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19, have accused him of falsifying biological test results to support his assertions. Pascale Pascariello reports.

  • How French defence firm Thales placed a mole inside the UN

    By and
    The United Nations headquarters in New York. © Photo Jewel Samad / AFP The United Nations headquarters in New York. © Photo Jewel Samad / AFP

    From 2016 to 2019 an officer in the French air force reserve worked for the United Nations in New York in a technology and communications department that helped support peacekeeping missions. Officially the French military had seconded his services free of charge to the UN. But in reality the experienced officer was working for and being paid by France's major defence and electronics firm Thales, according to documents seen by Mediapart. As Yann Philippin and Antton Rouget report, senior figures in the French state were aware of what was going on.

  • Suitcases of cash, threats and violence; the fallout from the Sarkozy-Takieddine affair

    Top right Nicolas Sarkozy; centre-right Ziad Takieddine. © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart Top right Nicolas Sarkozy; centre-right Ziad Takieddine. © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart

    Two people have been remanded in custody in the aftermath of the operation in which Ziad Takieddine, a key witness in the Nicolas Sarkozy-Libyan funding affair, made a false retraction of his evidence. One of the men in detention is the wealthy businessman Pierre Reynaud. As Mediapart can reveal, aspects of the saga have taken on the appearance of a Martin Scorsese crime movie. Fabrice Arfi, Karl Laske and Antton Rouget report.

  • Revealed: the extraordinary plan to free one of Gaddafi's sons in bid to help Sarkozy

    Noël Dubus, 'Mimi' Marchand, Nicolas Sarkozy and Hannibal Gaddafi. © Photomontage Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart avec AFP Noël Dubus, 'Mimi' Marchand, Nicolas Sarkozy and Hannibal Gaddafi. © Photomontage Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart avec AFP

    France's financial prosecution unit the Parquet National Financier (PNF) has broadened the scope of its investigation into claims that Ziad Takieddine, a key witness over allegations that Libya helped fund Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign, was induced to change his evidence. Well-connected Paris paparazzi boss Michèle 'Mimi' Marchand is one of those under investigation over the allegations. Prosecutors now also want to look at suspicions of an extraordinary plan to bribe judges in order to free one of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi's sons from prison in Lebanon. The idea was that, in exchange, a grateful Hannibal Gaddafi would then speak out and clear the former president's name over the 2007 election funding allegations. As Fabrice Arfi, Karl Laske and Antton Rouget report, the affair could potentially now become an international scandal.

  • 'Rafale Papers': the 'bogus invoices' used to help French firm clinch sale of jets to India

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    Dassault Aviation's CEO Eric Trappier, left, with the group's middleman in India, Sushen Gupta. © Sebastien Calvet / Mediapart, avec AFP et PTI. Dassault Aviation's CEO Eric Trappier, left, with the group's middleman in India, Sushen Gupta. © Sebastien Calvet / Mediapart, avec AFP et PTI.

    Mediapart is today publishing the alleged false invoices that enabled French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation to pay at least 7.5 million euros in secret commissions to a middleman to help secure the sale of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft to India. Yet despite the existence of these documents, the Indian federal police has decided not to pursue the affair and has not begun an investigation. Yann Philippin reports.

  • How France's postal service has failed to deliver on cutting CO2 emissions

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    The graph shows the performance of La Poste's mail transport in terms of C02 emissions over 15 years. © Mediapart The graph shows the performance of La Poste's mail transport in terms of C02 emissions over 15 years. © Mediapart

    In its public utterances France's portal service La Poste makes great play of its “carbon neutrality”. Yet an analysis shows that over the last decade and a half the publicly-owned postal group has been emitting more and more carbon dioxide each year transporting letters and parcels. The reason for this is the operator's complete reliance on using the most polluting forms of transport – air and road – to carry the mail. Mediapart's environment correspondent Jade Lindgaard reports.

  • Brigitte Macron's embarrassing chat with paparazzi boss under investigation for 'criminal conspiracy'

    Michèle Marchand (left) with Brigitte Macron in the northern town of Le Touquet during presidential election campaigning in April 2017. © Photo illustration Mediapart avec Eric Feferberg / AFP Michèle Marchand (left) with Brigitte Macron in the northern town of Le Touquet during presidential election campaigning in April 2017. © Photo illustration Mediapart avec Eric Feferberg / AFP

    In a tapped phone conversation in July, Brigitte Macron, wife of France’s president, told paparazzi agency boss Michèle Marchand, an influential PR fixer to politicians who is formally placed under investigation for witness tampering and criminal conspiracy in a case related to a probe into suspected Libyan funding of former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s election campaign, that she was to contact her security officer for help “if you get bother”. After she encouraged Marchand to “stay firm” following the latter's release from jail, Brigitte Macron also deplored the “terrible” judicial treatment of Sarkozy. Fabrice Arfi, Karl Laske and Antton Rouget report.

  • Revealed: how former hostage Sophie Pétronin secretly returned to Mali

    By Anthony Fouchard 
    Sophie Pétronin with her son Sébastien and his own son on her arrival back in France on October 9th 2020. © AF Sophie Pétronin with her son Sébastien and his own son on her arrival back in France on October 9th 2020. © AF

    News emerged at the weekend that former French hostage Sophie Pétronin, 76, who was held captive for almost four years by an al-Qaeda affiliate in Mali until her release in October last year, secretly returned to the West African country in March, and has since been living with her adopted daughter in the capital Bamako. Her presence in the country was made public after the Malian authorities on Saturday issued a warrant for her arrest, for reasons that are still unclear. In this report for Mediapart, journalist Anthony Fouchard, who is close to Pétronin and her family, reveals the details of how the humanitarian worker, together with her son, succeeded in the long clandestine journey to Bamako.  

     

  • Mystery of Macron's brutal power play against France's antitrust authority

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    The former president of the antitrust body the Autorité de la concurrence, Isabelle de Silva, who was removed by Emmanuel Macron. © ERIC PIERMONT / AFP The former president of the antitrust body the Autorité de la concurrence, Isabelle de Silva, who was removed by Emmanuel Macron. © ERIC PIERMONT / AFP

    Abruptly and without any warning, the Élysée decided that it was not renewing Isabelle de Silva's contract as the president of France's competition authority the Autorité de la Concurrence from October 13th. The decision, which has reportedly surprised and dismayed government ministers as well as many observers, was taken so late that a successor has not yet been lined up. The main theory to explain Emmanuel Macron's shock move is that the highly-respected De Silva was seen as an obstacle to the proposed merger between two private French TV companies, TF1 and the smaller M6, a tie-up that the Élysée favours. More generally, the independent Autorité de la Concurrence is also seen as a block to Emmanuel Macron's aim of creating large-scale national business champions. Martine Orange reports.