Berlin, September 8, 2022—French authorities should swiftly and thoroughly investigate the recent harassment of reporter Toufik-de-Planoise, bring those responsible to justice, and ensure that journalists covering the far right can work safely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.
On August 22, a group of four men confronted de-Planoise, a reporter for privately owned local news website Kawa TV, as he was leaving a courthouse in the eastern French city of Besançon, according to a Libération newspaper report, video of the incident taken by de-Planoise, who gave the footage to journalist Emma Audrey, who then posted it on Twitter, and the journalist, who communicated with CPJ via email and shared with CPJ a copy of a criminal complaint about the incident that he shared with authorities. (De-Planoise is the journalist’s pseudonym, he told CPJ, saying he uses it for security reasons.)
According to those sources, two men of the group insulted and shouted at de-Planoise, telling him that they knew who he was, and that they were waiting for him. The pair then approached the journalist; one asked him to stop filming them and the other hit him on the wrist, knocking his camera to the ground. De-Planoise told CPJ that he was not injured but his camera screen was cracked. He then left the scene.
De-Planoise identified the men as supporters of local far-right activists whom the journalist knows from his previous news coverage.
“French authorities must conduct a quick and thorough investigation into the harassment of reporter Toufik-de-Planoise, bring those responsible to justice, and ensure the journalist’s safety,” said CPJ’s Europe representative, Attila Mong. “Journalists covering far-right groups must be able to do their jobs safely without fear of reprisal, and police must take their responsibility to protect the press seriously.”
De-Planoise told CPJ that the incident occurred while he was covering a trial of far-right activists who in March stormed and disrupted an electoral campaign meeting of a far-left party in Besançon. De-Planoise regularly covers activities of local far-right groups in Besançon, according CPJ’s review of Kawa TV’s site.
De-Planoise said that for months, he had been regularly targeted by far-right activists on- and offline, and “filed six criminal complaints in less than six months” for harassments and threats, including threats of physical violence when he covers far-right demonstrations.
“This attack is, unfortunately, only the umpteenth demonstration of its kind,” the journalist told CPJ. “When you report on the extreme right, it is often the price to pay.”
He added that “not a week goes by” when he does not receive threats. De-Planoise said that although he filed his criminal complaints to police officials and provided them with evidence, such as video footage, screenshots, and testimonials, “absolutely nothing is happening.”
CPJ contacted one of the men who confronted de-Planoise on his Instagram account, emailed questions to the Central Directorate of Public Security at the French national police in Besançon, which is in charge of the investigation, but received no reply.