French journalist Ariane Lavrilleux was arrested Tuesday by the French General Directorate of Internal Security (CGSI) following a complaint that her 2021 co-authored report on a French military operation in Egypt compromised national defense secrets.
The report, titled the Egypt Papers was published on Disclose, an independent media outlet. Disclose also released a documentary titled Operation Sirli: France’s Complicity in State Crimes in Egypt, exploring the same issues. Lavrillreux is being held for allegedly violating national defense secrets and revealing information that can lead to the identification of a “protected agent.” Lavrilleux was released Wednesday evening following two days in custody. Her home was searched during her detention.
The Egypt Papers was written after Disclose obtained classified French official documents which revealed “abuses committed during a secret military operation by France in Egypt.” According to the report, the documents originate from the presidential office, the French armed forces ministry and the French military intelligence services, and demonstrate that the French government was informed of state crimes linked to a “campaign of arbitrary executions,” and took no action. The documents “raise the question of France’s role and responsibility in the crimes committed” under the government of President Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi in Egypt. Disclose states that it revealed the classified information in the name of the “fundamental democratic principle: the right to know.”
Amnesty International criticized the detention, calling it an “attempt to cover up a pattern of complicity in serious human rights abuses.” Reporters without Borders’ head of the EU-Balkans Desk Pavol Szalai stated “If Ariane Lavrilleux was arrested and her home was searched because of her legitimate activity as a journalist … this is a serious attempt of the confidentiality of journalists’ sources.” A statement released by Disclose calls the arrest an “unacceptable intimidation of Disclose journalists” with the goal of identifying the sources who identified the Sirli military operation in Egypt. The European Federation of Journalists stated it is filing an alert on the Council of Europe’s platform for the safety of journalists.