New York, December 10, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about a criminal investigation launched by French authorities against Guillaume Dasquié, a reporter for the daily Le Monde, on accusations of publishing state secrets related to the 9/11 hijackings.
Officers from the Directorate of Territorial Security, a counterespionage agency, searched Dasquié’s Paris home on Wednesday. They detained him for 48 hours, during which time he was interrogated and pressured to reveal his sources, according to international news reports. Dasquié faces five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros (US$110,000) under Article 413-11 of France’s penal code if convicted.
“We are troubled by the criminal probe against Guillaume Dasquié and his detention for two days by French security services who pressured him to reveal his sources,” CPJ’s Executive Director Joel Simon said. “Dasquié should not be prosecuted for serving the public’s right to know.”
On Thursday, investigating magistrate Philippe Coirre, who is in charge of the probe, filed preliminary charges against Dasquié. Under French law, the filing of preliminary charges means the investigation has found sufficient evidence to suggest that Dasquié has been involved in a crime, The Associated Press reported.
The probe against Dasquié stems from his April 16 article in Le Monde, titled “September 11: the French had long known,” which said French intelligence services, the General Directorate of External Security (DGSE), had warned their U.S. counterparts of a possible terrorist plot that involved the hijacking of planes and crashing them into buildings some eight months before 9/11, according to international news reports.
The article contained excerpts from a DGSE file titled “Aircraft hijack plan by radical Islamists”—part of a 328-page classified report on al-Qaeda activities, which Le Monde said it possessed. One excerpt from the report, dated January 5, 2001, said al-Qaeda had a list of potential airline targets, which included the United and American Airlines carriers used in the 9/11 attacks, the AP said. Le Monde said the DGSE files in its possession contained maps, analyses, graphics, and satellite photos, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported.