French authorities have been searching for a government employee who they believe has leaked damaging information about France's role in the Saudi-led war on Yemen to the media, a report says.
Citing unnamed informed sources on Wednesday, AFP reported that an investigation into the "compromise of national defense secrecy" had been opened by prosecutors on December 13 last year after a complaint by the ministry of the armed forces.
The sources also said that France's domestic intelligence agency, the DGSI, was leading the probe, which concerned the compromise of information involving a government employee and a third party.
In mid-April, the new investigative media outlet Disclose published a report that contained a classified 15-page note from the French military intelligence service (DRM) revealing that the two Arab countries had deployed French weaponry in their aggression against Yemeni.
The leaked note, which was provided to the government in October 2018, contained lists of French-manufactured tanks, armored vehicles, fighter jets, helicopters, howitzers, ammunition, and radar systems sold to both Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The report revealed that Leclerc tanks, a main battle tank built by the Nexter, and Mirage 2000-9 fighter jets sold in the 1990s to the UAE were being used in the war on Yemen.
Furthermore, 48 CAESAR artillery guns, manufactured by the Nexter group, were being used along the Saudi-Yemen border by the Saudi-led coalition.
Additionally, Geoffrey Livolsi, the founder of Disclose, said at least three journalists who had taken part in the preparation of the website’s investigative report had been called in for a hearing to be conducted by the DGSI in May.
"This judicial investigation has only one objective: to know the sources that allowed us to do our job. It is an attack on the freedom of the press and the protection of the sources of journalists," he said.
The use of French weapons in Yemen contradicts previous public statements from Paris, which has repeatedly asserted that these weapons are used only in a limited manner and in "defensive" operations only.
Yemen has been racked by an armed conflict that broke out after the Iranian-backed Houthis had ousted the internationally recognized government late in 2014.
Saudi Arabia has been leading a military coalition in Yemen since 26 March 2015, in support of forces loyal to President Hadi to retake areas controlled by Houthi group seen as proxy for Iran in the Arab Peninsula country.
Yemen 4-year war has triggered what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with most of the population in need for a type of humanitarian aid and immediate protection, including 14 million people risking famine and some 1.8 million children suffering malnutrition.