French authorities have been searching for a government employee who they believe has leaked damaging information about France’s role in the Saudi-led war on Yemen to the media, a report says.
Disclose, an independent investigative media, published on April 15 a devastating report exposing France’s role in the Saudi-led coalition’s war crimes in Yemen. The coalition has massacred thousands of civilians in operations using weapons supplied by France, Britain, the United States and other countries. Yet top French officials continued to deny this in public, issuing bald-faced lies contradicted by their own intelligence briefings.
The leaked note, which was provided to the government in October 2018, contained lists of French-manufactured tanks, armored vehicles, fighter jets, helicopters, howitzers, ammunition, and radar systems sold to both Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Citing unnamed informed sources, AFP reported that an investigation into the “compromise of national defense secrecy” had been opened by prosecutors on December 13 last year after a complaint by the ministry of the armed forces. The AFP report did not say when the note was leaked.
The sources also said that France’s domestic intelligence agency, the DGSI, was leading the probe, which concerned the compromise of information involving a government employee and a third party.
Disclose argued that the note was “of major public interest.”
“The confidential documents revealed by Disclose and its partners are of major public interest, that bring to the attention of citizens and their representatives what the government wanted to conceal,” AFP quoted an editorial for Disclose and its partners as saying.
Additionally, Geoffrey Livolsi, the founder of Disclose, said at least three journalists who had taken part in the preparation of the website’s investigative report had been called in for a hearing to be conducted by the DGSI in May.
The use of French weapons in Yemen contradicts previous public statements from Paris, which has repeatedly asserted that these weapons are used only in a limited manner and in “defensive” operations only.
France, the third-biggest arms exporter in the world, is a large provider of various kinds of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015.
Yemen 4-year war has triggered what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with most of the population in need for a type of humanitarian aid and immediate protection, including 14 million people risking famine and some 1.8 million children suffering malnutrition.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) emphasized today after three French investigative reporters received a summons from the French domestic intelligence agency (DGSI) about a leaked classified report revealing the use of French weapons in Yemen.
Any prosecution of these three reporters – Mathias Destal and Geoffrey Livolsi, the founders of the website Disclose, and Radio France’s Benoît Collombat – would constitute a serious press freedom violation, RSF said. The three journalists have been summoned for questioning at DGSI headquarters in Paris on 14 and 15 May in an investigation into a “compromise of national defence secrecy” that the Paris prosecutor’s office has launched in response to a complaint by the armed forces ministry.
The summonses state that they are “suspected” of committing or “trying to commit” a violation of national defence secrecy by publishing reports earlier this month about the use of French weaponry in Yemen. Their stories were based on a memorandum from the Directorate for Military Intelligence (DRM) classified “defence-confidential,” which was passed to them by an unnamed source.
France is ranked 32nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.