Investigation Launched on Journalist Francisco Carrión by United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities have initiated an investigation into journalist Francisco Carrión from the publication “El Independiente” due to his coverage of the regime. Carrión, who works as a journalist for “L’indépendant,” was reportedly targeted by UAE’s intelligence services for his reporting on Matar Suhail al Yabhuni Al Dhaheri, considered the right-hand man of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. The investigation was revealed in an inquiry published by Informations gratuites on Wednesday, based on documents obtained by Mediapart and shared with the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) network.

According to the cited media outlet, the UAE government enlisted the services of the Swiss detective agency Alp Services to investigate journalists they perceived as hostile informants. Among them was Carrión, who previously served as a correspondent for Le Monde in Egypt and has been the editor of L’indépendant since 2021. Initially subcontracted to Alp Services, the investigation was later handed over to the Barcelona agency Castor & Pollux.

The trigger for the Emirati regime’s concern was Carrión’s publication of a report on July 27 in La Otra Crónica (LOC), a supplement of Le Monde. In the report, Carrión, the current editor-in-chief of L’indépendant, revealed that Matar Suhail owned an Italian cycling team called Lampre, which he subsequently renamed UAE Team Emirates. Carrión also alleged that Matar Suhail had profited from real estate ventures in Serbia and that his name, along with that of his brother, appeared in the Panama Papers as owners of a company in the British Virgin Islands.

Carrión further highlighted that the Emirati, who owns a significant construction company in his country under the Serbian name Kopaonik, had acquired Serbian citizenship to recognise his efforts to foster commercial relations between the UAE and Serbia.

Some of the information that contributed to Carrión’s report had been previously published two years ago in the Middle East Eye, a media outlet known for its adversarial stance towards the UAE. Research by Information Gratuities suggests that the UAE authorities were alerted to this information two years later, prompting questions about the timing. The response given in the minutes was that “the journalist is a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The initial pages of the investigation report consist mainly of the journalist’s personal information and professional CV. It is mentioned that Carrión does not own a car or apartment, have debts, or have businesses registered under his name. The final two pages focus on Carrión’s coverage of the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

When approached for comments by Informations gratuities, journalist Francisco Carrión expressed that he was “not at all” surprised by the UAE’s interest in his work. Carrión explained that his decision to return to Spain was directly linked to the “ongoing harassment” he faced from the regime of Marshal Al Sisi following the coup d’état that toppled Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2013, after his election in the wake of the Arab Spring.

Francisco Carrión, born in Granada in 1986, previously served as a correspondent for Le Monde in Cairo. His reporting spans various countries, including Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Since 2011, Carrión has been covering the most tumultuous years in Egypt’s history from his base in the country.

Throughout his career, Carrión has received nearly twenty awards, including the Young Journalist of the Year award from the Madrid Press Association (formerly known as the Larra Prize), the Young Communication Award from Complutense University of Madrid, the Tiflos Journalism Award from the ONCE Foundation, the Colombine from the Almería Press Association, the United Hands Award, the Manuel Alcántara from the University of Malaga, and the Manuel Azaña from Alcalá de Henares.

Over the past decade, Carrión’s exclusive reports have garnered international attention, such as his coverage of actor Omar Sherif’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease, interviews with the mother of Mohamed Atta, one of the masterminds behind the 9/11 attacks in New York, and Rabei Osman, also known as “Mohamed the Egyptian,” who was allegedly involved in the 2004 Madrid train bombings.

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