Families File Suit Against French Media Outlets For Coverage During Charlie Hebdo Attack

Associated Press
Paris Hostage Crisis

A group of six that hid from terrorist Amedy Coulibaly during his siege of a supermarket following the attack on the satirical magazine are suing news outlets for revealing their location live on air.

Three months after the Paris terrorist attacks, a group of six that hid in a cold room inside a kosher supermarket while gunman Amedy Coulibaly held hostages upstairs, have filed a suit against French media outlets for broadcasting their location in the midst of the siege.

The suit accuses the media outlets of "endangering the lives of others."

News channel BFMTV, which broadcast the location of the six live during its wall-to-wall coverage, was specifically singled out. Lawyer Patrick Klugman said that the broadcast "lacked the most basic precautions" by revealing the whereabouts of those in hiding.

Coulibaly had been following the media coverage of the hostage situation at the supermarket, as well as that of his accomplices Cherif and Said Kouachi, live on air and even called in to BFMTV during the broadcast.

Reporter Dominique Rizet revealed the location of the hidden six on air.

Rizet mentioned that they were hidden in the cold room nearly two hours before the police siege that resolved the situation. He mentioned it once during a report, although the information was not repeated.

BFMTV editorial director Herve Beroud acknowledged the breach during an interview on CanalPlus March 27.

"The sentence by one of our journalists on the possible presence of a hostage in the refrigerator was inappropriate, it was a mistake," he said.

Beroud had previously acknowledged the incident in an interview with newspaper Le Monde, stating that a member of the police force had told Rizet that the hostages were not in danger before the broadcast, which representatives from the police force subsequently denied.

Klugman also criticized other outlets for broadcasting the movements of police during the separate sieges. The suit carries a maximum of one year in prison and a $16,300 (€15,000) fine.
Government television watchdog Superior Audiovisual Council (CSA) had previously sanctioned broadcast channels France 2 and TF1, and news networks LCI and BFMTV, for their handling of sensitive information during the siege at the supermarket, as well as the Kouachis' hostage crisis at a printing plant in the village of Dammartin-en-Goele. The two brothers had previously killed 12 during the initial attack at the offices of satirical publication Charlie Hebdo.

In a joint statement following the CSA sanctions, the media outlets defended their freedom of the press.