Le Monde director summoned by French intelligence service

Paris (AFP) –


The managing director of the newspaper Le Monde, Louis Dreyfus, said Thursday he has been summoned for questioning by France's domestic intelligence agency, following a similar order against one of the daily's senior reporters.

Dreyfus told AFP he and Ariane Chemin -- who broke the story of an explosive scandal concerning a security aide to President Emmanuel Macron, Alexandre Benalla, who was fired after being filmed roughing up a protester while police stood by -- have both been told to appear at the headquarters of the DGSI service on May 29.

It was an article in July 2018 by Chemin that first reported that Benalla had beaten a May Day demonstrator while wearing a police helmet.

The Elysee has been accused of covering up the affair by failing to report Benalla to the authorities.

The summonses have created disquiet in French media over journalistic independence and freedom of expression, especially as they follow DGSI orders against four reporters of an investigative website, DIsclose, after they reported on leaked military intelligence about how French weapons sold to Saudi Arabia and the UAE were being used in Yemen.

"It is to be feared that, with these summonses, authorities are trying to intimidate the journalists and identify their sources so as to punish or dissuade them," said the head of the Reporters Without Borders watchdog group, Christophe Deloire.

Le Monde on Wednesday reported that Chemin was summoned for her articles on Benalla as well as a profile she did of a former air force officer, Chokri Wakrim, who is the partner of the former head of security in the prime minister's office.

The ex-security chief, Marie-Elodie Poitout, resigned after media revealed she and Wakrim had welcomed Benalla to their home in July but insisted it had only been a social affair.

Dreyfus and Chemin were being questioned as part of a DGSI probe into the alleged revelation of "a member of special forces units".

Several sources said the investigation stemmed from a complaint made in mid-April by Wakrim.