VIENNA, 12 December 2007 - Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, today called upon the French government to introduce, as pledged, measures to ensure the protection of journalistic sources.
Earlier this month French counter-espionage police raided the home of independent investigative reporter Guillaume Dasquié in search of classified information that had been leaked to the journalist.
"This case, as did previous attempts to force journalists to reveal their confidential sources in France, highlights the urgency to introduce a shield law," said Haraszti, in a letter to the French authorities. "The right of media professionals not to reveal their sources is a major precondition for investigative journalism, which has proven most successful in combating corruption and maladministration, and exercising effective public control over governments."
Haraszti recalled that in April 2007 President Nicolas Sarkozy, then running for office, wrote a letter to the French media advocacy group Reporters sans frontières backing the call for a provision to media legislation that would allow journalists to protect their confidential sources. Pascal Clément, Minister of Justice under the previous French government, had in 2006 also expressed his support.
"The very fact that the French government recognizes the benefits of such a provision for modern journalism is positive. What is needed now is legislative action," said Haraszti.
The investigation against Dasquié began after he published an article in Le Monde on 17 April that revealed classified documents of the French intelligence services related to terrorism and particularly to the 11 September 2001 attacks in New York. If convicted, Dasquié faces up to five years in prison or a fine of up 75,000 euros under Article 413-11 of the French Penal Code for "possessing secret defence documents" and "divulging secret defence documents or intelligence".