GRAF4907. PARÍS, 21/09/2023.- Ariane Lavrilleux, a journalist with the French investigative media Disclose, holds a press conference at the Paris headquarters of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) to denounce her arrest for 39 hours for revealing French cooperation in the supply of spying equipment to Egypt that was allegedly used in a campaign of arbitrary executions.. EFE/Edgar Sapiña

Reporter arrested for investigating Egypt relationship deplores lack of political support

Paris, Sep 21 (EFE).- Ariane Lavrilleux, the French journalist held in police custody for 39 hours while investigating the controversial military cooperation between France and Egypt, deplored “the lack of political support” for her arrest and warned that such attacks weaken democracy in her country.

Speaking from the Paris headquarters of the international organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Lavrilleux appeared visibly emotional before the media on Thursday, shortly after being released without charges the previous night.

The journalist spent nearly 40 hours detained at a police station in Marseille, during which, according to her account, she was denied medication for diarrhea.

The young independent journalist is being investigated for compromising state secrets and revealing information that could lead to the identification of secret agents for a report she published in 2022 in the investigative outlet Disclose.

This extensive report, “Operation Sirli,” is based on classified documents transmitted by an unidentified source.

Lavrilleux emphasized that she is protected by the rights granted to journalists not to disclose their sources.

In the report, she cited notes from the French presidency, the Ministry of Defense, and the Directorate of Military Intelligence regarding the deviations from a cooperation agreement in which France provided military assistance for aerial surveillance of the 1,200 kilometers of border with Libya.

The piece shows how Egypt used the information provided by France to kill civilians suspected of smuggling. In contrast, the initial idea was to combat terrorism.

“I have been both a victim and a privileged witness to the diversion of the means used to fight terrorism in France, the means used by the French Judiciary. They are supposed to prevent attacks, but they have been mobilized against me, a journalist, for hours, perhaps months,” she denounced, alluding to suspicions that her phone had been tapped for some time.

Although she was released without charges, the authorities confiscated all the devices containing her work-related information. Now, a civil liberties judge will determine whether to return her materials within five days.

Lavrilleux, accompanied by Disclose’s editor-in-chief, Mathias Destal, and RSF’s Europe-Balkans region head, Pavel Szalai, announced that they are considering legal actions against the state.

The journalist expressed disappointment over French politicians’ “lack” of mobilization regarding her detention and cited some exceptions among the lawmakers from the leftist La France Insoumise and the Green Party.

She warned that if parliamentarians do not take action in the committees of each chamber on the work of the secret services and the export of French military armaments, it could harm French democracy.

“If they remain silent, it is very disquieting for our democracy. If those in power do not ask questions, democracy dies in darkness, as the famous slogan goes. This is a very political, essentially democratic matter,” she concluded. EFE