PARIS (AP) — A French journalist was arrested and her residence searched Tuesday by the country’s domestic intelligence agency, her employer the investigative news outlet Disclose, said.
Disclose said reporter Ariane Lavrilleux’s detention was linked to her reporting on leaked documents implicating French intelligence’s alleged role in the Egyptian government’s alleged targeting of civilians.
The media outlet called the detention an “unacceptable” assault on press freedoms.
The General Directorate of Internal Security opened an investigation in July 2022 into Disclose’s work, which it said was “compromising national defense secrets and revealing information that could lead to the identification of a protected agent.”
The allegations stem from a series of exposés initiated in November 2021 in which Disclose chronicled the alleged misuse of French military intelligence by the Egyptian military in an operation originally meant to identify Islamic militants.
The scope of Operation Sirli allegedly expanded to facilitate nearly 20 targeted strikes conducted by the Egyptian military against individuals returning to Egypt from Libya between 2016 and 2018 who were suspected of smuggling. But subsequent reports said many of those targeted were not militants, a severe breach in protocols regarding the targeting of civilians and evoking potential human rights violations.
In a post on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter, Disclose said that its reporting “relied on several hundred top secret documents to unveil a campaign of arbitrary executions” orchestrated by Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sissi “with the complicity of the French state.”
A spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry did not immediately respond to phone calls and a message seeking comment Tuesday.
Tuesday’s arrest was likely to intensify scrutiny and prompt questions in French media over the country’s alleged role in and record on human rights in Egypt.
Associated Press writer Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed.