Three Al Jazeera journalists are reportedly in custody for flying a drone in Paris, where drones overhead have the city on edge

Keeping watch.
Keeping watch.
Image: Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Updated with a comment from Al Jazeera (5:28pm eastern time).

Three journalists from Al Jazeera have been arrested in France for allegedly flying a drone in the Bois de Boulogne woods on the outskirts of Paris, the Associated Press reported. Al Jazeera tells Quartz that the journalists were investigating the mysterious drones that have been flying around Paris landmarks this week, causing concern among authorities there.

“Three Al Jazeera English journalists have been held by police in Paris while filming a report on the city’s recent mystery drones,” an Al Jazeera spokesman said. “We will comment further when more information is available.”

The three journalists are aged 70, 54, and 36, according to the AP. Al Jazeera’s main headquarters are in Doha, Qatar, but it employs reporters all over the world.

Multiple sightings of drones flying by the Eiffel Tower, the US embassy, and other Parisian landmarks were reported late Monday night into Tuesday. Drones were spotted again the next night, around the Eiffel Tower and the Place de la Concorde, a famous public square known for its iconic obelisk.

Normally, this wouldn’t be much cause for alarm—and France wouldn’t need to enlist the help of the US Secret Service—but the country has been extra vigilant in the weeks following the terrorist attacks in Paris that left 20 people dead.

Even before the Charlie Hebdo attacks, mysterious drones were causing some unease in France. In October, drones were spotted over seven different French nuclear plants. Three people were arrested, but it turned out they were apparently not involved in the incidents. It’s still uncertain who exactly was responsible for those flights.

Flying drones during the day in Paris requires a license from the government. Flying them at night is illegal.

Many people have filmed drone videos above Paris, and have posted them for public viewing on the internet. Here’s one, which swerves in and around many renowned Paris sites, including the Eiffel Tower: