The Case of Yoann Barbereau
Yoann Barbereau was arrested on the 11th February 2015, at 9 am. He was hooded and blindfolded, and taken to an unknown place. He was beaten and threatened all morning before being presented early in the afternoon, to the head of the investigation. He was accused of disseminating pictures of child pornography.
From the 11th February to the 5th March 2015, his wife and five year old daughter were questionned, harrassed and threatened.
In June 2015, having left Russia in haste, his wife wrote a ten page letter to the local and federal judicial authorities, denouncing these serious matters.
An internal investigation will clear police authorities and the mother will have her status of legal representative withdrawn. The child will then be represented by a social worker (who never met with her) throughout the whole trial.
Yoann Barbereau was incarcerated in Irkoutsk’s central prison from February 11th to April 22nd 2015.
He was forcefully interned in a psychiatric hospital from June 15th to June 30th 2015, for medical evaluation.
From his release from prison on the 22nd April 2015 until his escape (11th September 2016), he was under house arrest constantly monitored by an electronic bracelet (being allowed outside for one hour daily within a restricted area).
During the trial (from June to December 2016), Yoann Barbereau and his lawyers brought technical, objective and verifiable elements,which innocent him, including his geographic location : he was far from his house at the precise time when uploads were carried out via his personal internet connection. He clearly cannot be the author of this online dissemination on a website advising young parents !
It has been demonstrated that two people (unknown to Yoann) intervened with his internet access provider in order to adjust confidential settings. In addition, an expert noticed some manipulations on one of his hard-drives during the period it was placed under seal. A child pornography film was added to it, probably on the 12th February, when Yoann was in prison.
During the investigation and the trial, no witnesses ever accused him of committing paedophile acts. The accusation started from a blurred photograph, which shows only Yoann and his daughter partially uncovered, coming out of the shower. This image does not contain any pornographical content. After looking at more than ten thousand photos and videos belonging to Yoann for 20 years, no other images were found to accuse him.
In spite of this proof brought before the court, convinced (via a source inside the court) that he would be convicted, that everything had been decided in advance and planned by the FSB, Yoann fled from what was an obvious masquerade.
The Irkoutsk Alliance Française Troubled
Concurrently with his arrest and during the whole judicial process, the Alliance Française in Irkoutsk, staff members or board members were attacked.
A few months before being arrested, Yoann Barbereau had sent an email in which he worried about attempts of intimidation by pseudo customs officers holding back parcels intended for the French Alliance.
He pointed out in a very clear way that these men looked as if they were FSB agents. For the first time in Irkoutsk, as the French Alliance director, he felt threatened.
On the 11th February 2015, while he was being arrested, the French Alliance was searched, all of its hardware and some documents were removed. They were withheld for more than six months without justification. The French Alliance was attacked again in September 2015, in relation to the obtention of a Teaching Permit, and condemned a year later. At the present time, there are no longer language courses, as they await the hypothetical obtention of this permit.
From the day Yoann was arrested, the French Alliance was attacked in several local articles. Board Members were named and stigmatized. In local papers (two in particular), Yoann was systematically presented as Irkoutsk’s French Alliance Director as well as a « French diplomat ».
In an article published just before he fled, he was described as a representative of « immoral and perverse European ideas » one had to fight. It was illustrated with a photographic montage of Yoann’s face, a map of Europe and the European flag, pointed at by a finger of accusation.
The title of the picture read : « The Delusion of Civilization ». The French Alliances was said to be a cover for French Intelligence Officers, therefore it was logical to get rid of the one in Irkoutsk, in the same way as was done with the British Embassy a few years before.
On that day, it is still difficult to understand the why and wherefore of this case. Was Yoann convicted on arbitrary grounds and made an example of due to his status as Director of the French Alliance, official of the Foreign Office, falsely accused by local judicial and police mafia willing to do anything to obtain gratification ? For whom was he an inconvenience and why ? The fact remains, however, that once it all had started, the backers could not step down.
Who is at the source of this case ?
Three main hypothesis were issued by different sources, in order to explain why Yoann was the victim of this conspiracy.
1) A vengeance, set-up by his wife
2) A vengeance, set-up by a jealous husband
3) A set-up by local police or/and local FSB.
1) Concerning the first hypothesis, it is quite clear today that the perpetrators of this case took advantage of a fragile conjugal situation (a divorce was being considered), hoping that the Spouse would make exploitable depositions under pressure. However, in June 2016, she reported how both her daughter and herself were threatened. During the trial, she continued to totally clear Yoann.
Later, one of the investigators who had interrogated her and her daughter would be condemned for committing acts of torture in another case.
2) The second assumption was supported by a local newspaper. It was written in an article that the wife of the regional head of investigation had been involved in a relationship with Yoann, as well as the wife of the city’s former mayor who had then become vice-governor. One of the husbands would have taken revenge, perhaps both. This assumption is fanciful but significant. It would have meant exploiting this trial against Yoann (but this time in order to attack other people). It was a smokescreen. There is no doubt that local FSB tried to exploit everything possible in this procedure. The FSB also intervened in appeal, to change the judge’s decision, who had ordered to free Yoann from wearing an electronic bracelet (October 2015). The judge was reprimanded and the president of the court dismissed.
3) The most probable hypothesis is the one pointing out police authorities or local FSB’s responsibility in this case, from the very beginning. They would have implemented important technical means (surveillance, hacking and introduction of compromising documents into computer hardware) to fabricate this case in order to destroy a reputation. Both FSB and police authorities participated in this case’s fabrication and exploitation.
And now ?
In December 2016, Yoann Barbereau has been condemned to 15 years detention in a Russian penal colony. His lawyers will keep on defending him before every possible Russian court of law, during the year of 2017. Yoann’s wish would be to obtain Russia’s condemnation before the European Court of Human Rights, for this fabricated case.
Yoann fled from Russian justice on the 11th September 2016, refusing a parodic trial and the condemnation emerging from it.
To this day, he still has not won back his freedom. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is fully mobilised and in regular contact with the family.