Minister, police union try to close French Copwatch site

Copwatch Nord Ile de France

France’s Interior Minister Claude Guéant has joined police unions in trying to ban web pages that claim to expose police brutality. The French version of the Copwatch site publishes photos and sometimes names of police officers it accuses of abusing their power.


Guéant and police trade union Alliance took six internet providers to court on Wednesday to try and close down about 10 pages of the Copwatch-Nord-Ile-de-France internet site that they say are a “huge potential threat” to police officers.

The pages copied of Copwatch sites in the US in publishing pictures of 450 police and gendarmes, sometimes accompanied by their names and sharply critical comments.

Among the pictures are photos of plainclothes officers working undercover on demonstrations.

One of the officers named recently received a hunting rifle cartridge in his letter bow, according to Alliance’s lawyer, Délphine des Villettes, who claimed that the site in motivated by “anti-cop hatred”.

Spate of high-profile trials in France

The case has been brought against the providers because it has proved impossible to identify the site’s host, lawyers said, adding that the ministry is not demanding censorship.

The providers argued that they were not responsible for the site’s content and that it is technically impossible to close down the site, while at the same time saying that if it is done the ministry should foot the bill.

The court is to deliver judgement on Friday.

A search for Copwatch-Nord-Ile-de-France on Wednesday led to a security warning.

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