September 14, 2000
Quebec Provincial Police
1701 Rue Parthenais
Montreal, Quebec, H2K 3S7
VIA FACSIMILE: 514-598-4957
Dear Mr. Gagné,
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply concerned about yesterday's shooting of Michel Auger, a veteran crime reporter with the French-language daily Le Journal de Montréal. Auger was shot one day after the publication of his latest article on organized crime in Quebec Province.
At about 11 a.m. on September 13, Auger drove his Subaru into the parking lot of Le Journal de Montréal. As he was reaching into the trunk for his portable computer, an unidentified gunman fired six bullets at him, hitting him five times.
Auger managed to call an ambulance on his cellular phone. He was then rushed to the Montreal General Hospital, where he underwent surgery that same afternoon. The journalist is currently in stable condition, according to Paule Beaugrand-Champagne, editor of Le Journal de Montréal.
The paper has turned over videotapes from three security cameras that monitor the parking lot to the police.
During his long career as a crime reporter, Auger has specialized in covering turf battles among Quebec's biker gangs. On September 12, the day before he was shot, Auger published an article titled "Chaos among the gang bosses." In the story, which was illustrated with mug shots of local gang members, Auger reported that the Hell's Angels biker gang and the local Mafia were purging themselves of troublesome elements.
A smoldering white Plymouth Acclaim was found near the newspaper's offices with a gun inside; an attempt to set the car ablaze had apparently failed. (As you know, Quebec motorcycle gangs often burn the vehicle that transported the perpetrators of an attack in order to destroy fingerprints and other evidence.)
As an international organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of our colleagues around the world, CPJ urges you to do everything in your power to apprehend the authors of this brutal attack on press freedom. We would welcome any information that might emerge in the course of the investigation. Thank you for your consideration.
Ann K. Cooper