BFMTV, France's top-rated news channel, suspended one of its longest-serving servers and launched an internal investigation into news packets linked to an Israeli disinformation unit calling itself the "Jorge Team". A presenter on BFMTV since its launch in 2005, Rachid M'Barki is on leave and at the center of the investigation into multiple stories his program Le journal de la nuit. It was suspended last month after a member of Team Jorge suggested to undercover reporters that the group was sneaking behind a BFMTV news report about the Monaco yachting industry. The report, published last year, argued that the sanctions imposed on Russian oligarchs had damaged the yachting industry in the Mediterranean principality. M'Barki was suspended when a reporter contacted BFMTV to inquire about the integrity of this package and several others broadcast by the channel. The channels said in a statement that the packages did not go through the usual editorial verification procedures. Team Jorge sells hacking and disinformation services to political and corporate clients who want to run covert influence trading campaigns. The team was exposed by an international consortium of reporters led by the Guardian and the French nonprofit Forbidden Stories. Quick Guide About this research series Show The Guardian and The Observer have partnered with an international consortium of reporters to investigate global disinformation. Our Disinfo black ops project exposes how false information is deliberately spread by powerful governments and special agents who sell their secret services to political campaigns, corporations and wealthy individuals. It also reveals how inconvenient facts can be wiped from the internet by those wealthy enough to pay. The investigation is part of Story killers, a collaboration led by Forbidden Stories, a French nonprofit whose mission is to pursue the work of reporters who have been assassinated, threatened or imprisoned. The eight-month investigation was inspired by the work of 55-year-old journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot and killed outside her home in Bengaluru in 2017. Hours before he was killed, Lankesh was putting the finishing touches on an article called In. Age of False News, which examines how so-called fake factories spread disinformation online in India. In the last line of the posthumous article, Lankesh wrote: “I would like to greet everyone who exposes fake news. I wish there were more of them.” The Story killers consortium includes more than 100 journalists from 30 media outlets, including Haaretz, Le Monde, Radio France, Der Spiegel, Paper Trail Media, Die Zeit, TheMarker and OCCRP. about this project. Investigative journalism like this is vital to our democracy. Please consider supporting him today. Did this help? Thank you for your feedback. Tal Hanan, the leader of the unit, a former Israeli special forces agent using the pseudonym "Jorge", was filmed by undercover reporters pretending to be leads, boasting of his ability to manipulate the media to spread propaganda. At a secretly filmed meeting, Hanan told reporters he was able to broadcast stories in France and then play a video clip. One of the undercover reporters - Radio France Middle East correspondent Frédéric Métézeau - noticed that the clip was a BFMTV report by M'Barki and contacted the channel last month about the integrity of the package. Alert over the broadcasts quickly escalated and led to an internal investigation, and on January 11, M'Barki was taken off the air and on leave. It is unclear whether Team Jorge is behind the BFMTV news package, and if so, how and in whose name they place the stories. News site Politico, which is the first to report on the internal investigation at BFMTV, said that a dozen suspicious broadcast packages are currently under investigation. Tal Hanan, leader of Team Jorge, a hacking and disinformation unit. Photo: Haaretz/The Marker/Radio France BFMTV confirmed the investigation in a statement on February 2, saying: "An internal investigation has been going on at BFMTV for two weeks after the discovery of content broadcast outside of the usual verification channels on our program Le journal de la nuit. He has been suspended from duty since the beginning of the investigation.” BFMTV CEO Marc-Olivier Fogiel told the Forbidden Stories consortium: “We remain cautious at this stage. But the truth is we are the victims.” BFMTV's Association of Journalists , which seeks to advocate for honesty in reporting, said in a statement that they "recognized suspicions of interference with a journalist from our channel." The statement said the details were "serious and reprehensible" if the details were correct, while the SDJ added that it hopes the internal investigation will reveal how the packages began to be released. In a comment to Politico, M'Barki denied any willful misconduct. He said: "It's all real and verified. I'm doing my job... I'm not ignoring anything, maybe I was tricked, I didn't feel like I was participating in an operation that I didn't know or what it was, or I wouldn't have done it." "I reject abuses," said Tal Hanan, head of the Jorge Team, not responding to detailed questions about the unit's activities and methods.