Dec 7, 11:33 PM (ET) link to original:

NOTE: Guillaume Dasquie is a French investigative journalist and co-author of Le Verite Interdite. (Forbidden Truth: US Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy, Saudi Arabia and the failed search for in Laden.) Written in 2002. See Bibliography


PARIS (AP) - A French anti-terrorist judge has filed preliminary charges against an investigative journalist and author accused of publishing defense secrets, judicial officials said Friday.

Authorities are investigating articles by Guillaume Dasquie, including one that reported French intelligence had suspected al-Qaida of planning a plane hijacking nine months before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Dasquie was detained Wednesday after investigators from the DST counterespionage agency searched his residence, the judicial officials said. On Thursday, investigating judge Philippe Coirre, who handles anti-terrorist cases, filed preliminary charges, the officials said.

The charges are for "possessing secret defense documents" and "divulging secret defense documents or intelligence," the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.

Dasquie was later released but remains under judicial surveillance.

Under French law, preliminary charges mean the investigating judge has determined there is strong evidence to suggest involvement in a crime.

One of two publications under investigation is an April article by Dasquie published in Le Monde called "Sept. 11: The French Had Long Known," which included excerpts of confidential documents from the DGSE intelligence agency. One note, dated Jan. 5, 2001, said al-Qaida was plotting a hijacking and listed potential airline targets, including the two carriers, United and American, that were targeted in the Sept. 11 attacks later that year.

The other publication by Dasquie involved French intelligence documents published on his Web site concerning the death of French Judge Bernard Borrel in Djibouti in 1995.

The Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders expressed concern about Dasquie's case and said he should not be held responsible for leaks from official sources. If Dasquie's case goes to court and he is convicted, he could face up to five years in prison and $109,000 in fines, the group said.

The French National Journalists Union also expressed concern about the case and other cases involving searches of journalists' offices or homes and what it called the "criminalization of the journalistic investigation." Representatives of the union were meeting Friday with officials from the Justice Ministry to discuss solidifying French laws on protecting journalists' sources.