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Journalist Arnaud Hamelin placed in police custody: RSF concerned over this decision's impact

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF is concerned about journalist Arnaud Hamelin's placement in police custody, which sharply evokes the difficulties faced by journalists in protecting their sources.

"We are concerned about the future repercussions of this decision. A journalist cannot be ordered to reveal the sources of his information, and as such be forced to act as a subsidiary of the law or police," stated Robert Ménard, the organisation's secretary-general.

"This is not about shielding a journalist from legal proceedings," added Ménard, "but rather protecting the principle of the protection of sources, which is investigative journalists' sole guarantee of being able to pursue independent investigations."

According to information collected by RSF, French journalist and television producer Hamelin was placed in police custody on 17 October 2000, in the context of the preliminary investigation opened against the Jospin government's former minister of finance, Dominique Strauss Kahn, "and any others", for the penal offence of "removing documents from the law". The journalist is allegedly going to be interrogated about the conditions under which the recording of a video cassette containing the confession of a secret financier of the RPR (the president's political party) was made. He is also apparently to be questioned about the circumstances which led to the publication of the video cassette's contents in the 22 and 23 September editions of the newspaper "le Monde". He may be interrogated on Wednesday 18 October.

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