Investigative journalist Morgan Large in Rostrenen, France in April 2021. Large learned that the lug nuts on her car had been loosened to the degree that it endangered the car’s stability and put her at risk of an accident on March 24, 2023. (AFP/Loic Venance)

CPJ calls for French authorities to probe suspected sabotage of French journalist Morgan Large’s car

Berlin, March 31, 2023 – French authorities must conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the suspected sabotage of investigative journalist Morgan Large’s car and ensure her safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Friday.

On March 24, Large, a host for the privately owned Radio Kreiz Breizh and co-founder of local investigative website Splann!, learned that the lug nuts on the left rear wheel of her car had been loosened to the degree that it endangered the car’s stability and put her at risk of an accident, according to multiple news reports; CPJ’s interview with Large; and an affidavit signed by an automobile service station, which CPJ reviewed.

Large had been driving near the town of Rostrenen, in the northwestern region of Brittany, that morning when her car began making unusual noises. The service station’s affidavit attested that the left rear wheel “showed a manifest lack of tightening.”

Large told CPJ that she believes this was intentional sabotage, and she was targeted for her investigative reporting on local issues, including agribusiness and environmental damages caused by local farming. Recently, she reported on controversies to extend a pig farm, plans to set up a new pit inside a quarry, and a new solar plant.

Although she has not received any threats in 2023, she received several anonymous, threatening phone calls in response to her reporting at her home and radio station from 2020 through 2022, leading her to disconnect her home phone at night to avoid such calls.

“French authorities must conduct a quick and thorough investigation into the circumstances of an alleged sabotage on the personal car of investigative journalist Morgan Large and hold any perpetrators to account,” said Attila Mong, CPJ’s Europe representative. “Authorities must take these incidents seriously, treat them like potential attacks aiming to intimidate reporters into silence, and ensure that journalists can cover sensitive local issues without fear.”

The car drove fine the previous day, on March 23, according to Large and an affidavit from an acquaintance who had ridden in the car, which CPJ reviewed. She filed a criminal complaint with the Rostrenen police on March 24, which CPJ reviewed.

On March 31, 2021, two lug nuts were removed from Large’s car in a similar incident, which she reported to police at the time, according to Large and news reports. Police discontinued that investigation due to a lack of evidence, Large said.

CPJ’s email to the Rostrenen police station did not receive a response.