France appears to be launching a crackdown on the free press with the same vigor it has shown in destroying free speech guarantees in the nation famous for its 1784 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of all the Citizen. Recently, we discussed how the French government was criminally investigating journalists who uncovered false statements by French officials on the country’s role in the war in Yemen. Now, a senior reporter at the renowned French Le Monde has been called in for questioning after Ariane Chemin revealed that a security aide to President Emmanuel Macron has been summoned for questioning by the domestic intelligence service.
I noted in the earlier story that I was highly critical in a column after French President Emmanuel Macron received a standing ovation in calling for the United States to follow France’s lead in stomping out some forms of free speech. This story shows how hostile the French government has become to core guarantees of freedom.
Ariane Chemin was called in by the same government office — the General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI).
The alleged crime was a quintessential act of journalism. Chemin wrote a series of articles over the former presidential bodyguard Alexandre Benalla. Benalla was fired last year after he was filmed roughing up a protester in one of the biggest scandals to shake Macron to date. Chemin not only wrote about how Benalla donned a police helmet before beating the demonstrator but how the Elysee allegedly covered up the affair. The coverage also touched on the role of Hformer air force officer Chokri Wakrim, the partner of Marie-Elodie Poitout, the ex-head of security at the prime minister’s office. Poitout later resigned.
It is a curious disconnect. Despite Macron’s record against free speech and the free press, he received glowing coverage on this visit and continues to garner relatively favorable treatment in the American press coverage.