On June 11, 2019, police officers arrested Taha Bouhafs, a reporter at French news website Là-bas Si J’y Suis, allegedly assaulted him during the arrest, confiscated his mobile phone, and detained him for 24 hours, according to reports by his employer and local news outlets.
Bouhafs was filming a protest of undocumented workers in the Parisian suburb of Alfortville when a police officer blocked his camera, pushed him, and punched him in the chest, the journalist told French media news website Reporterre. Bouhafs identified himself as a journalist, but officers arrested him and drove him to a local police station, he said.
Officers then drove Bouhafs to a local emergency room, where he was treated for a dislocated shoulder and bruises on his face sustained during his arrest, he told his employer in an interview posted on Twitter.
After receiving treatment, officers drove Bouhafs back to the police station where they detained him for 24 hours and questioned him about his journalistic work, his opinions about the French government, and his living arrangements, and confiscated his cell phone, he told Reporterre. He was released on June 12 after being charged with contempt of police and rebellion, and authorities have not returned his phone, he said.
Contempt of police and rebellion are charges which carry a maximum penalty of two years in prison according to the French Criminal Code.
Bouhafs is required to appear in court on February 25, 2020, his lawyer, Arié Alimi, told French daily Le Monde. Alimi told the paper that he has filed an official complaint over the police officers’ treatment of Bouhafs during his arrest and his detention, and filed to have the journalist’s phone returned.
Bouhafs became a well-known journalist in France in 2018 when a photo he took of a police officer attacking a protestor sparked an investigation that revealed the officer was Alexander Benalla, deputy chief of staff to French President Emmanuel Macron, according to news reports.
The French Ministry of the Interior, which oversees the police, directed CPJ’s emailed request for comment to the Créteil justice department, which oversees Alfortville. An email to the justice department did not immediately receive a response.