Never mind WikiLeaks, France turns anti-leak

France’s top reporters are being robbed, not only of their belongings, but also of their free speech. 

Working hand-in-hand with the French internal security service Division Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur (DCRI) leader Bernard Squarcin, French President Nicholas Sarkozy is said to have been spying on his country’s journalists. Sarkozy is rumored to have ordered the country’s internal security service to investigate reporters and uncover sources who embarrass his government.”

The French government — which claims to guarantee the secrecy of journalistic sources — used the intelligence service to identify one of Le Monde’s sources, thus leading the newspaper to file a lawsuit for the “breach of confidentiality of sources” this past September.

Though the Elysée Palace — Sarkozy’s official residence — calls the claim “utterly ridiculous,” it was reported that “the DCRI confirmed to Le Monde that an “anti-leak” team did exist within the counter-intelligence agency to “protect national security.”

According to Le Canard enchainé, the French satirical weekly, the agents investigated “telephone bills of journalists to identify their sources.” Without permission from the state surveillance watchdog, the DCRI searched mobile phones for information regarding the “Bettencourt-Woerth” affair.

As a result of these searches, Médiapart’s online journalists Fabrice Arfi and Fabrice Lhomme and Le Point’s editor Hervé Gattegn were robbed of their laptops and tapes.

So the story continues — and problematically so — that investigative journalism gets punished for intervening in secretive topics of money and politics. Sarkozy’s methods of surveillance and censorship give us a new adage: keep your political friends close, but your media enemies closer.