Augustin Scalbert

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Attacks on the Press   |   France

Attacks on the Press in 2012: France

After five years of tension between the media and Élysée Palace under Nicolas Sarkozy, a new Socialist government sought to cool down the atmosphere. President François Hollande promised to review his predecessor’s policies on public broadcasting and to give up the presidential privilege of directly appointing its executives. The judiciary brought good news for the press: A judge dismissed a criminal case against Augustin Scalbert, a Rue89 journalist indicted in June 2010 on charges of “stealing and keeping” a video that showed Sarkozy scolding France 3 journalists. And prosecutor Philippe Courroye was indicted on charges of unlawfully trying to identify the sources used by Le Monde journalists investigating the Bettencourt affair, the questionable funding of Sarkozy’s party by billionaire Liliane Bettencourt. But a number of media outlets faced new lawsuits claiming defamation or insult (Mediapart, Libération), and endangerment of life or incitement to hatred (Charlie Hebdo). Several French journalists were also victims of violence: Gilles Jacquier and Rémi Ochlik were killed and Edith Bouvier was wounded in Syria, while Roméo Langlois was abducted in Colombia.

February 14, 2013 12:05 AM ET

Blog   |   Spain

The long shadow of Spanish politics over public media

A recent wave of personnel changes at Spanish state-owned broadcaster Radio Televisión Española (RTVE) has raised concerns about political and ideological influence, with many fearing that journalists closer to the current conservative government are being promoted at the expense of those with alleged progressive views. It is the latest controversy in a long debate about the model for Spain's flagship public broadcaster and, especially, its relations with the government of the hour.

Blog   |   France

Victory for press freedom in Sarkozy video case

From left, Rue89's Pierre Haski, Augustin Scalbert, and two France 3 journalists were summoned in 2009 over a video of then-President Nicolas Sarkozy. (AFP/Jacques Demarthon)

"Champagne." Augustin Scalbert's tweet on Monday could not have better expressed the joy and relief at Rue89, a leading French news website. After four years of legal procedures, a Paris judge had just announced he was dropping all charges against the journalist  "for lack of evidence" in a case that was seen as a litmus test for the independence of the French press in reporting on the presidency. 

Attacks on the Press   |   France

Attacks on the Press in 2011: France

France’s press freedom record continued a downward slide, in large part because authorities attempted to violate the confidentiality of journalists’ sources and interfere with editorial decisions. Most of the recent cases stemmed from the “Bettencourt affair,” the alleged illegal financing of the presidential party by the billionaire Liliane Bettencourt. In 2010, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office ordered the secret services to identify sources leaking information about the matter to the press. Journalists from major media outlets were targeted, and the secret services obtained phone records of a Le Monde journalist. In October, the director of domestic intelligence was charged with violating the secrecy of correspondence and confidentiality of sources. Press-government relations were further strained during the 18-month abduction of two France 3 journalists in Afghanistan, which ended in June. Élysée Palace and the army had criticized the “recklessness” of the reporters. In November, the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo were firebombed and its website was hacked after the satirical weekly published a spoof edition “guest-edited” by Prophet Muhammad.

February 21, 2012 12:02 AM ET

Blog   |   France, Uzbekistan

French news site must prove Uzbekistan is a dictatorship

AFP

When Lola Karimova, the Uzbek president's youngest daughter, decided to sue the French online newspaper Rue89 in August for libel, she wanted to restore the reputation of her country. Or did she? Her case against one of the most irreverent Paris media outlets is slowly turning into a public relations fiasco for her and the oil-producing Central Asian republic, Uzbekistan, where her father, Islam Karimov, has reigned supreme for more than two decades.

May 16, 2011 6:10 PM ET

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Blog   |   France

French journalist indicted for 'stealing' Sarkozy video

Sarkozy (AP)French journalists are flabbergasted. One of their colleagues, Augustin Scalbert, a journalist with Rue89, a leading news Web site, has just been indicted by a Paris prosecutor under the charges of “stealing and keeping” a video belonging to the public television channel France 3. If the journalist is found guilty, this indictment can land him in jail for five years or leave him with a 375,000 euro (US$458,000) fine.
June 18, 2010 5:10 PM ET

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