“Didier Raoult does not cyberbully, but he has lieutenants who do”

He officially left office less than three months ago, but his name is still being talked about. This Thursday, “Complément d’Enquête” devotes an issue to the former director of the Marseille IHU Didier Raoult, with exclusive revelations. In her investigation, carried out with Martin Lavielle and Frédérique Prigent, Nathalie Sapena returns in particular to the organization of pro-Raoult on social networks to defend the scientist against his detractors… and reveals that, contrary to the will of the government, the director of the IHU has never been sanctioned. The cause ? A dark story of a letter that mysteriously disappeared… The journalist returns to 20 minutes on this investigation and behind the scenes.

Why were you interested in Didier Raoult?

I wanted to try to take a step back from everything that happened. I myself covered health for years and years. I am familiar with these subjects. And I was in some confusion. And I think I’m not the only one. When I started investigating Didier Raoult last March, people around me asked me: “So? You believe it ? You don’t believe it? Is he a charlatan or a great scientist? “. So I wanted to understand what was going on.

Why did you devote part of your investigation to defenders of Didier Raoult, especially on social networks?

I left with a medical prism. I wanted to seek to understand Didier Raoult, to seek to investigate the studies around hydroxychloroquine. And in fact, all the people I contacted were terrified, from Agnès Buzyn to ordinary people on Twitter, of being attacked by very active tweeters. Rarely have I done a survey where so few people have agreed to speak. What Agnès Buzyn, who is one of Didier Raoult’s scapegoats, is experiencing is incredible. She has a bodyguard since confinement and the launch of hydroxychloroquine. Since she was targeted by the pro-Raoult, she no longer goes out alone in the street without her son. She suffered physical attacks. The cyberbullying of pro-Raoult is a vice in which people are caught. Didier Raoult does not cyberbully, but he has lieutenants who do it for him. In the investigation, the journalist Ariane Chemin speaks of an army. It is totally true.

Your investigation dissects in particular the functioning of a Twitter loop, including members of the IHU and pro-Raoult tweeters…

This is a group that was the IHU’s disinformation bridgehead. The IHU was not content to defend chloroquine in scientific circles. They also flooded Twitter and all social networks with false information. This group had a role of spokesperson. As soon as someone criticized Didier Raoult, these members were responsible for making the tom-tom around the communication of the IHU. It was one of its former members who explained to me the functioning of the group, baptized CIA. This man is a tweeter enrolled in this group. He is a conspirator and pro-Raoult, very lively and has a lot of followers. He repented after a few months and threw everything away. It is up to the courts to say if there is cyberbullying. [Selon l’enquête de Nathalie Sapena, cet homme fait l’objet d’une plainte pour cyberharcèlement envers une femme qui avait critiqué Didier Raoult.]

In this group, whose administrator is the boss of France Soir, there is in particular Yanis Roussel, who was in charge of the communication of Didier Raoult, and who explains that he is part of it only to watch. Eric Chabrière, another close friend of Didier Raoult, who is the subject of a complaint by Didier Raoult’s daughter for harassment and whose trial is scheduled for January, is on the other hand more active.

And since I tried to reach Eric Chabrière to ask him very specific questions, a fortnight ago, it’s starting to go up on my side. I get bullied. I get insulted. For now, I don’t care. But I don’t know how far it can go. There is a kind of excessively unhealthy climate.

You also reveal in your investigation that the Ministers of Health and Research had written and signed a letter in 2017 requesting disciplinary action against Didier Raoult for having silenced the cases of harassment within the IHU. But Didier Raoult has never been sanctioned…

More specifically, during the investigation, I obtained a whole series of letters. It’s a whole procedure that starts from the Ministry of Research, which then passed on to the Ministry of Health. But I don’t know what happened. The letter was never received by the body in charge of these procedures, which are very rare. When I said that to Agnès Buzyn and Frédérique Vidal, the two ministers fell out of the cupboard.

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