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Journalists charged in Cofidis affair

By Hedwig Kröner

Five French journalists have been charged for breach of secrecy in the judiciary investigation of the Cofidis affair. After the offices of the French magazine Le Point and newspaper L'Equipe were searched by Nanterre court investigators in January this year, three of the former and two of the latter journalists have now been officially accused, as they did not provide the sources of the details of the criminal investigation which they published.

On January 22, 2004, Le Point printed entire transcripts of taped phone calls used in the investigation, and on April 9, 2004, L'Equipe published excerpts of the hearings of several Cofidis riders.

The journalists from Le Point have been subject to observation including tracing their cell phone calls in order to find out where the leak came from. The two L'Equipe journalists' homes were searched. Nevertheless, in article 109 of the French Code of criminal procedure, it is stated that journalists have the right not to reveal their sources, which have not been identified to date.

Many organisations have expressed their dissent with the action take by the Nanterre investigating judge and appealed that the right of the press to reveal its sources be maintained, as it is "one of the pillars of the freedom of the press" according to the European Court of Human Rights.

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