The troubling unofficial role of a senior French minister's partner

Agnès Pannier-Runacher and Nicolas Bays in the Élysée courtyard during Emmanuel Macron's investiture as president on May 7th 2022. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart Agnès Pannier-Runacher and Nicolas Bays in the Élysée courtyard during Emmanuel Macron's investiture as president on May 7th 2022. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart

A number of officials at the Ministry for Energy Transition, which is headed by Agnès Pannier-Runacher, are said to be at the end of their tether. The minister's partner Nicolas Bays, who has no title or role there, is reported to have constantly intervened to give orders or put pressure on ministerial staff. In addition, several former Parliamentary staff have told Mediapart that they were victims of inappropriate gestures made by Nicolas Bays at the National Assembly several years ago when he was a Member of Parliament. He denies the allegations. Lénaïg Bredoux, Antton Rouget and Ellen Salvi report.

The freedom to inform wins as court lifts gagging order on Mediapart

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Gaël Perdriau, mayor of Saint-Étienne and president of the Saint-Étienne metropolitan district, September 24th 2021. © Vero Martin / Hans Lucas via AFP Gaël Perdriau, mayor of Saint-Étienne and president of the Saint-Étienne metropolitan district, September 24th 2021. © Vero Martin / Hans Lucas via AFP

After twelve days of unprecedented censorship, a court in Paris has overturned the gagging order that had banned Mediapart from publishing an investigation into the political practices of Gaël Perdriau, mayor of Saint-Étienne. The injunction was granted on November 18th following an ex parte application by the mayor's lawyer. As it was an ex parte application – meaning that only the applicant's side was present - Mediapart was not informed of it and was thus not present to defend its case. That injunction was widely condemned, with the broad-left political coalition NUPES describing it as “incomprehensible”. Now, on Wednesday November 30th, the same judge who made the first ruling has overturned her own verdict, stating that she had been misinformed by Perdriau's lawyer at the initial application. Fabrice Arfi reports on this victory for the freedom of the press.

Mykolaiv and Dnipro: a tale of two cities under attack

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November 27th 2022: the crater and destruction left by a Russian missile strike on homes in Dnipro. © Igor Ishchuk for Mediapart November 27th 2022: the crater and destruction left by a Russian missile strike on homes in Dnipro. © Igor Ishchuk for Mediapart

The true toll of civilian casualties in the war in Ukraine remains unclear, with estimates ranging from 17,000 dead and wounded (according to UN figures) to more than 40,000 dead (according to the US military). Following Ukraine’s recapture earlier this month of the southern city of Kherson, Russia has intensified its missile strikes across the country, many of them landing on civilian areas. Mediapart’s Mathilde Goanec reports here from two cities targeted by the attacks: Mykolaiv, in the south-east, close to the Black Sea, and Dnipro, in the centre-south.

2021 Channel tragedy: one man’s quest to know why rescuers let his brother die

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Twana Mamand Mohammad, 18, lost in the Channel in November 2021. © DR Twana Mamand Mohammad, 18, lost in the Channel in November 2021. © DR

On November 24th last year, an inflatable dinghy carrying at least 33 migrants across the Channel from France to England took on water and sank, leaving just two survivors. The bodies of 27 people were recovered, and at least four others were never found, including that of the 18-year-old brother of Zana Mamand Mohammad. He travelled to Paris from Iraq this month to meet with French investigators who have established that rescue services were repeatedly called for help, but failed to respond. “How could the French and English authorities have left children, women and men die at sea while for hours they had raised the alarm about their sinking?” he asked in an interview with Mediapart. 

Outrage over judge’s gagging order against Mediapart investigation

 © Illustration Simon Toupet / Mediapart © Illustration Simon Toupet / Mediapart

Following the extraordinary gagging order issued by a Paris judge last Friday to prevent Mediapart from publishing a report on a serious political scandal surrounding Gaël Perdriau, mayor of the French town of Saint-Étienne, numerous fellow journalists, the legal profession, rights groups and cross-party members of both houses of the French parliament have expressed their outrage.

Judge slaps gagging order on Mediapart investigation

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censure-saint-etienne-1

A Paris judge has imposed a gagging order on Mediapart which prohibits it from publishing new revelations in its investigation into the highly questionable political practices of Gaël Perdriau, mayor of Saint-Étienne. The Mediapart investigation has previously revealed the blackmailing of the town’s deputy mayor, a rival of Perdriau's, using a compromising ‘sex tape’ video. As Mediapart’s publishing editor Edwy Plenel details here, the gagging order, which was made at the request of Perdriau and without allowing Mediapart any legal opportunity to oppose it, is an unprecedented attack against the freedom of the press in France. 

Qatar 2022: a cup brimming over with scandal

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 © Illustration Justine Vernier / Mediapart © Illustration Justine Vernier / Mediapart

The 2022 World Cup, steeped in controversy, finally opened in Qatar on Sunday. All of those who, through multiple dealings and arrangements, accepted or promoted its hosting by the Gulf state, have an enormous amount to answer for over their responsibility for the consequences, notably the deaths of thousands of migrant construction workers, an environmental disaster and political scandal. Michaël Hajdenberg presents a brief analysis of what we know of the dark background to the tournament.

How France's glass-makers are broken by energy costs

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Thousands of jobs in France’s glass-making industry are now under threat. © Photo Denis Charlet / AFP Thousands of jobs in France’s glass-making industry are now under threat. © Photo Denis Charlet / AFP

Soaring energy costs have thrown the once flourishing glass-making industry in France into a crisis, and this has notably hit the small- and medium-sized businesses that account for an important part of its estimated 22,000-strong workforce. As glass-makers report a year-on-year quadrupling of their energy bills amid a parallel economic slowdown, some have been forced to shut down their ovens and to place staff on short-time working, and many now face the chilling prospect of not being able to survive the winter. Mathias Thépot reports.

Climate change: hurtling towards the point of no return

Participants at the COP 27 summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on November 9th 2022. © Photo Mohammed Abed / AFP Participants at the COP 27 summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on November 9th 2022. © Photo Mohammed Abed / AFP

As the United Nations COP 27 climate conference continues through this week at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, more than 30 media organisations from around the world, including Mediapart, are publishing a joint appeal, in an initiative led by British daily The Guardian, for agreement to be found on urgent action in face of climate change. “The UN process may not be perfect,” notes the appeal, “but it has provided nations with a target to save the planet, which must be pursued at COP27 to stave off an existential risk to humanity.”

'Why are there so many soldiers? We're refugees': detained Ocean Viking migrants await their fate

By Pierre Isnard-Dupuy
Senator Guy Benarroche from the green EELV party with survivors from 'Ocean Viking', November 13th 2022. © Photo : Pierre Isnard-Dupuy Senator Guy Benarroche from the green EELV party with survivors from 'Ocean Viking', November 13th 2022. © Photo : Pierre Isnard-Dupuy

On Friday November 11th the 230 migrants who had been on board the 'Ocean Viking' finally disembarked at Toulon on the French Mediterranean coast after a diplomatic tussle between Paris and Rome. On Sunday Mediapart joined French Parliamentarians who visited the migrants at the 'waiting zone' where they have been held since leaving the humanitarian vessel. The leftwing politicians left the site voicing doubts about whether the migrants' asylum rights are being respected. And migrant group activists say that the survivors from the ship should be freed immediately because of the hardships they have suffered and their vulnerability. Pierre Isnard-Dupuy reports.

French pharma Sanofi: last with its Covid vaccine but top with its lobbying

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The Sanofi factory at Val-de-Reuil in Normandy, September 5th 2022. © Lou Benoist / AFP The Sanofi factory at Val-de-Reuil in Normandy, September 5th 2022. © Lou Benoist / AFP

The Covid-19 vaccine produced by pharmaceutical firm Sanofi has finally been approved by European regulators, well after rival products from its competitors. But while the French fgroup may have been last in getting a vaccine ready to fight the pandemic, it is a different story when it comes to lobbying. As Rozenn Le Saint reports, over the last two years Sanofi has spent more than its rivals in a bid to influence the authorities in Paris and Brussels.

Why France's far-right RN party co-founded by an ex-Waffen SS officer wants to head anti-Semitism group

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Marine Le Pen surrounded by fellow MPs from the far-right RN at the National Assembly, October 3rd 2022. © Xose Bouzas / Hans Lucas via AFP Marine Le Pen surrounded by fellow MPs from the far-right RN at the National Assembly, October 3rd 2022. © Xose Bouzas / Hans Lucas via AFP

Despite a history marked by anti-Semitism, the far-right Rassemblement National wants to preside over a working group on the subject at the National Assembly. The authorities at the French Parliament are due to make a decision on this on December 7th. Marine Turchi looks at the reaction to the RN's request, examines the history of a party that was founded as the Front National in 1972, and explains why it now wants to head a group tackling anti-Semitism.

 

Sarkozy-Libya: deleted messages suggest ex-president was kept informed about witness retraction

'Mimi' Marchand during a tribute to the French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo at the Hôtel des Invalides in central Paris on September 9th 2021. © Photo Romain Gaillard / REA 'Mimi' Marchand during a tribute to the French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo at the Hôtel des Invalides in central Paris on September 9th 2021. © Photo Romain Gaillard / REA

Previously-deleted digital conversations that have been retrieved by an IT expert show that well-connected Paris paparazzi boss Michèle 'Mimi' Marchand oversaw from start to finish an operation which led to the false retraction of a witness statement by Ziad Takieddine. Takieddine is a key witness in the affair that centres on claims that the Libyan regime helped fund Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign. In those same messages Marchand stated that she was keeping the former president – who was given the nickname 'Zébulon' – informed in real time of events concerning the Takieddine evidence retraction saga. Fabrice Arfi, Karl Laske and Antton Rouget report.

French soldiers deployed in Romania on NATO mission are 'cold' and 'hungry'

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Photos of the living conditions experienced by French soldiers deployed at Cincu in Romania since February 2022. © Documents Mediapart Photos of the living conditions experienced by French soldiers deployed at Cincu in Romania since February 2022. © Documents Mediapart

On November 3rd France's armed forces minister Sébastien Lecornu visited French troops who have been deployed in Romania as part of a NATO mission. However, despite the upbeat photo opportunities, some of the soldiers stationed there complain of logistical failings, a lack of food and poor living conditions. Justine Brabant reports.

Qatar suspected of targeting Mediapart in global hacking operation

Then Qatari ruler Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani celebrates the awarding to Qatar, on December 2nd 2010, of the 2022 World Cup. © Reuters Then Qatari ruler Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani celebrates the awarding to Qatar, on December 2nd 2010, of the 2022 World Cup. © Reuters

A joint investigation by The Sunday Times and the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has reported that a group of Indian hackers were hired to spy on journalists and other individuals “who threatened to expose wrongdoing” over the awarding to Qatar of this year’s football World Cup. Among the “dozen” people reported to have been targeted are former UEFA president Michel Platini, French senator Nathalie Goulet, and Mediapart journalist Yann Philippin. Qatar denies any involvement in the hacking operation. Fabrice Arfi and Michaël Hajdenberg report.