Police charged Hamza with “violating judicial secrecy,” and have threatened him with potential prison time for a photo Hamza published online.
Below is a translation of Hicham Hamza’s article describing his arrest:
Detained by police for investigating the attacks in Paris
An independent journalist and founder of the investigative website Panamza, I was detained for seven hours by police about an article in which I revealed the Israeli origin of the shocking photo of the Bataclan.
On Monday, February 22nd, I went of my own accord to the police station in response to a summons from the Crimes Against Persons Brigade, located in the 13th arrondissement of Paris.
The day before, I had received an “urgent” voice message from an official of the Directorate of the Judicial Police asking me to call him immediately. The reason: my December 15th article entitled “Bataclan Carnage: The shocking photo was disseminated from Jerusalem.”
I was familiar with the Judicial Police premises, having been summoned twice to respond to “defamation” complaints brought against me by Caroline Fourest and Pierre Bergé.
Surprise! This time, upon arrival I was “placed in custody” following a preliminary investigation by the Paris prosecutor. The officer informed me that I was now suspected of having committed – by publishing my article – the following offenses: “violation of the secrecy of an investigation”, “publication of an image that seriously undermines human dignity,” and “premeditated voluntary violence without ITT.”*
Yes, you read that correctly.
So what happened next?
I was led to cell to await the arrival of my lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre so that she could be present, as the law allows, during my interrogation.
After the interrogation, I was made to read and sign the minutes of my statements. I was then returned to detention pending the police response. Five hours later I left the musty old double-locked room to learn that no decision had been taken by the prosecutor of the Republic.
I was finally allowed to collect my things and go.
The merits of the case?
While following the torturous trail of the shocking, anonymous Bataclan massacre photo, I had done my work as an investigative journalist. My objective was to fully document my sources. So in my article, I inserted the URL of the first web page containing the non-blurred Bataclan picture (which I had chosen to truncate on my site).
The original source of the photo turned out, oddly enough, to be a tweet published by an Israeli organization headed by the U.S. neoconservative Mark Gerson.
My practice – which is increasingly costly and risky – of ultra-sourced web journalism is my guarantee of reliability for my readers: I give them my sources to check so they can judge for themselves the veracity of my information.
Today, the Paris prosecutor – who reports directly to the Ministry of Justice – claimed that I had supposedly “violated the secrecy of the investigation” and committed “premeditated voluntary violence” by “disseminating” the photo necessarily included in this tweet.