French outlets Mediapart, Le Canard enchaîné receive threatening letters

New York, April 7, 2017–The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned threats made against the Paris-based investigative news website Mediapart and satirical weekly Le Canard enchaîné (The Chained Duck), and called on French authorities to promptly bring the perpetrators to justice.

Mediapart received a threatening letter and bullet yesterday, according to local press reports. The letter featured an image of a coffin with the initials of the website’s founder, Edwy Plenel, on it. Le Canard enchaîné received a similar letter, but with an image of a duck instead of initials, the reports said. The letters were signed “Collectif d’Epuration 2J” (Collective for Purification 2J), according to press reports. CPJ could not determine the group’s broader aims or political affiliations. Some news reports said the 2J could be a reference to journalists and judges.

French prosecutors are investigating the threats, according to reports.

Both papers have led coverage of allegations of corruption by François Fillon, a conservative candidate in France’s presidential elections. Fillon denies wrongdoing and has accused the media of “political assassination” ahead of the May vote, the Guardian reported.

“We condemn the cowardly threats made against Mediapart, Le Canard enchaîné, and their journalists, and call on French investigating authorities to promptly track, apprehend, and bring to justice all those responsible,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “Threats against the media must always be taken seriously, but they are all the more chilling in the run-up to crucial political events such as the French presidential vote.”

Mediapart, which shared an image of the letter on its Twitter account, reported the threat to police, according to press reports. The letter read, “Vigilance and protection don’t last Ad Vitam. On that day we will be there for you or one of your close ones.” It was mailed from Marseille, about 750 km from Paris, on March 30, the paper reported.

Several magistrates also received a threatening letter, according to Reuters. Mediapart reported that the magistrates were all investigating the allegations of wrongdoing by Fillon. The prosecutor’s office would not confirm Mediapart’s report, according to Reuters.