Release of the journalist from the “Disclose” site behind the “Sirli” scandal

Journalist Ariane Lavrilleux was released on the evening of Wednesday, September 21, after forty-eight hours in police custody in an investigation into her articles concerning a possible hijacking by Egypt of a French intelligence operation, a coercive measure extremely rare which outraged the profession

Release of the journalist from the “Disclose” site behind the “Sirli” scandal

Journalist Ariane Lavrilleux was released on the evening of Wednesday, September 21, after forty-eight hours in police custody in an investigation into her articles concerning a possible hijacking by Egypt of a French intelligence operation, a coercive measure extremely rare which outraged the profession.

“I am free, thank you very much for your support,” the journalist wrote on X (formerly Twitter) and in three languages ​​on Wednesday evening, a message accompanied by a photo of a raised fist in front of an Egyptian flag. His lawyer, Me Virginie Marquet, confirmed to Agence France-Presse (AFP) his release, while a source close to the investigation affirmed that his police custody was “lifted” while a former soldier, also detained since Tuesday, was going to be presented to a magistrate with a view to possible prosecution.

“It’s okay, she’s very combative,” Magali Serre, president of Disclose, the media that published her article at the end of 2021, told AFP. Disclose had affirmed in an article published in November 2021 that the mission of French intelligence "Sirli", started in February 2016 for the benefit of Egypt in the name of the fight against terrorism, had been diverted by the Egyptian state, which used the information collected to carry out air strikes on vehicles of suspected smugglers in the Egyptian-Libyan border.

Following this publication, the French Ministry of the Armed Forces filed a complaint for “violation of national defense secrecy”. A preliminary investigation was opened in November 2021, before an investigating judge was appointed in the summer of 2022, according to Disclose.

“Intimidation like we have never seen in recent years”

Disclose clarified on Wednesday on In addition to the one on Operation “Sirli”, Disclose cites articles relating to “the sale of 30 Rafale aircraft to Egypt”, “weapons delivered to Russia until 2020”, “the sale of 150,000 shells to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates [UAE]” and the “illicit transfer of arms from the UAE to Libya.”

The announcement of the police custody has sparked since Tuesday morning a growing flow of support for the journalist, such as that of Amnesty International, which deplored "an attack against journalists (...) who try to expose the opaque actions of French intelligence services.” “There is a form of escalation in the means implemented [to obtain information on journalists’ sources], which itself is worrying,” also estimated Paul Coppin, of Reporters Without Borders.

During a gathering at the end of the afternoon at Place de la République in Paris, the president of Disclose estimated that the State was warning journalists by this measure: “If you investigate state secrets, you risk end up like Ariane Lavrilleux, in police custody”. “We are facing intimidation like we have never seen in recent years,” Emmanuel Poupard also denounced, on behalf of the journalists’ inter-union association.

The boss of the Socialist Party, Olivier Faure, present alongside deputies Julien Bayou (Europe Ecologie-Les Verts) and Raquel Garrido (La France insoumise), called for “constitutionalizing the right to protection of sources”. “This is what we will defend in the coming weeks.” The government spokesperson, Olivier Véran, refused on Wednesday to answer a question on this affair, during the report of the council of ministers.