Mediapart censored? Even Isabelle Balkany defends Edwy Plenel and his journalists

FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP Mediapart censored? Even Isabelle Balkany (here February 13, 2020) defends the media


Mediapart censored? Even Isabelle Balkany (here February 13, 2020) defends the media

POLITICS – Classified without hard feelings. The Mediapart investigation site says it is “censored” after a court decision which prohibits it from publishing new information in connection with the mayor of Saint-Étienne Gaël Perdriau. A “ unprecedented attack on freedom of the press “, in the words of the founder Edwy Plenel, who ulcerates even in the political class.

If many defenders of online media have made their voices heard on social networks, often on the left of the political spectrum, there is a message more surprising than the others: that of Isabelle Balkany. The former first deputy (LR) of the town hall of Levallois-Perret, definitively sentenced in March 2020 to three years in prison for tax evasion, provides frank support to the site which has “ personally, painfully hurt “. Or at least freedom to inform.

And this, in the name of democracy. ” Yes, Mediapart and its journalists hurt me personally, painfully… But what is this country where press censorship reigns? “, she wrote on social networks on Tuesday, before adding: “ It is no longer France, my France, that of Camus and Combat, the ‘journal of the Resistance’ which ‘founded’ my convictions of Liberty! »

This support is all the more unexpected since Mediapart has been at the origin of several revelations, since 2013, which have led, among other things, to the conviction of Isabelle and her husband Patrick Balkany.

Concretely, an order from the Paris court, issued urgently on Friday November 18, at the request of Gaël Perdriau, prohibits the investigation site from publishing new information taken from audio recordings of the mayor of Saint-Étienne after a series of revelations about an intimate video blackmail case, according to statements by Edwy Plenel.

According to Mediapart, Gaël Perdriau invoked “an invasion of privacy” to block the publication of new revelations. The journalist who conducted the investigation had previously asked him for his position on “new facts”. According to EdwyPlenel, these facts “challenging the practices of the mayor of Saint-Étienne, particularly in the use of rumor as a political instrument”with the target of Laurent Wauquiez, the LR president of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.

Mediapart was not informed of this procedure and the order was taken “ without our newspaper being able to defend its work and its rights “, in the words of the journalist.

A senator wants to legislate to protect the press

According to the text of the order, Mediapart cannot “publish all or part of the illegal recording made on November 27, 2017” in the mayor’s office “on all media, electronic, paper or other (…) and this under penalty of 10,000 euros per published extract”.

The case began in August when the news site published the confessions of the former companion of a right-wing municipal deputy accusing himself of having trapped the first deputy Gilles Artigues by having him filmed to blackmail him in a hotel room with an escort boy. According to his confessions, this « barbouzerie » had been organized at the request of the mayor – who has always denied any involvement – and remunerated via fictitious services invoiced to cultural associations financed by the municipality.

The case continues to bounce on the political ground. Centrist Senator Nathalie Goulet has tabled a bill in response to the procedure used to constrain Mediapart. Its single article aims to supplement the law of July 29, 1881 on the freedom of the press, by adding that“a publication can only be prohibited in application of a judicial decision handed down by both sides”. Which was not the case here.

The text received the support of the (centrist) president of the Culture Commission Laurent Lafon, for whom it was “important to react quickly and to express our support for the press.”

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