Berlin, May 19, 2021 — French authorities should swiftly and thoroughly investigate threats made to Jean-Jacques Basier and ensure his safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Since April 30, anonymous people have made phone calls, sent letters, and left online comments containing threats to Basier, the Centre-Val de Loire regional director of the public broadcaster France 3, according to news reports and Basier, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.
The threats began after France 3 Centre-Val de Loire issued a statement saying that it would not broadcast a documentary about Joan of Arc, originally scheduled to air on May 8, because the program’s political content could be seen as commentary on upcoming local elections.
“French authorities must take the threats made against Jean-Jacques Basier seriously, and maximize their efforts to investigate them and hold the perpetrators to account,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Journalists should be free to make editorial judgments without receiving a torrent of threats to their lives.”
Since April 30, Basier estimated that he had received “hundreds” of insults and threats, including calling him a “Bolshevik” and “Stalinist,” for refusing to air the documentary, and threatening to “take care of your face” and “pay you a visit, so you can think before you act,” according to the journalist and screenshots of the messages reviewed by CPJ.
Basier was identified by name as the person responsible for pulling the documentary in an April 30 broadcast by the privately owned news channel CNews, in a segment that included Orléans Mayor Serge Grouard discussing the decision not to air the documentary, according to news reports.
Basier told CPJ that most of the threats came during the days just after April 30, and forced him to change his phone number because of the volume of calls and texts he received. Basier said he filed a criminal complaint on May 6 over the threats; the Orléans public prosecutor has opened an investigation, according to reports.
CPJ emailed the Orléans prosecutor’s office and the press office of the mayor of Orléans for comment, but did not receive any replies.