It’s been seven months since an assault at the headquarters of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo left 12 people dead and led to simultaneous hostage stand-offs which resulted in more deaths, including those of the killers. In one of the hostage situations, at a printing warehouse in Danmartin-en-Goële north of Paris, an employee, Lilian Lepère, hid in a cupboard for eight hours before being rescued by a special forces team. At the time, French media reported his possible presence on live TV and radio, with the suspects still in the building. He is now suing them for putting his life at risk.
Daily Le Parisien and other local media report that Lepère, who helped police during the crisis by sending text messages with information regarding the shooters, filed an initial suit on July 9 against public broadcaster France 2, leading commercial net TF1 and radio station RMC. The Paris prosecutor’s office has now opened a preliminary investigation into his complaint of “endangering the lives of others.” Lepère’s attorney, Antoine Casubolo Ferro, told AFP the investigation “is very good news… What we can hope is that this makes the media think carefully the next time.”
January 9 was a breathless day of media coverage as the world watched the events unfold on live television and this complaint is not the first in the wake of the tragedy. French broadcasting watchdog, the CSA, reprimanded more than a dozen outlets for their coverage earlier this year. Further, six people who hid in the cold storage room of the kosher supermarket where a related hostage crisis was unfolding the same day, accused several media outlets of putting their lives in danger by showing the events live and revealing their situation.
The U.S. media has not been immune to criticsm, either. Two days before the final standoff occurred, NBC News erroneously reported that one of the suspects had been killed and two others were taken into custody. And Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, told CNN in late January that the city would sue Fox News after it was “insulted” by the cable network’s characterizations of Muslim “no-go zones” in Europe — specifically in France and England.