|Type||Daily newspaper (six times per week)|
|Owner(s)||La Libre Belgique S.A.|
|Founded||Le Patriote: 1884|
La Libre Belgique: 1915
|Headquarters||Rue des Francs 47,|
B-1040 Brussels, Belgium
La Libre Belgique (French: [la lib? b?l?ik]; literally The Free Belgium), currently sold under the name La Libre, is a major daily newspaper in Belgium. Together with Le Soir, it is one of the country's major French language newspapers and is popular in Brussels and Wallonia. La Libre was founded in 1884 and has historically had a centre-right Christian Democratic political stance. The papers is particularly celebrated for its role as an underground newspaper during World War I and World War II when Belgium was occupied. Since 1999, the newspaper has become increasingly liberal but is still considered more conservative than Le Soir.
After the German invasion of Belgium in World War I, Le Patriote was banned by the German occupation authorities. In February 1915, however, it was re-founded in secret by the Jourdain brothers as an underground newspaper called La Libre Belgique ("Free Belgium"). The new title was an allusion to a collaborationist paper called La Belgique ("Belgium"). A total of 171 issues of La Libre Belgique appeared during the occupation. It soon became famous as an example of Belgian resistance. Several weeks before the end of the hostilities, both of the Jourdain brothers died of natural causes. Their work was continued by Victor's two sons Joseph and Paul Jourdain.
The newspaper was also published secretly in German-occupied Belgium during World War II in a number of unofficial editions. The largest, known as the La Libre Belgique of Peter Pan (after the fictional editor's name given on the masthead) achieved a circulation of 10,000 to 30,000 copies. 85 bi-monthly issues were published.
After the war, La Libre Belgique supported the mainstream Christian Social Party and, until 1999, the paper had a strong Christian Democratic stance. Currently the newspaper has a centrist editorial policy.
La Libre is published six times per week (from Monday to Saturday) by the IPM publishing group and has its headquarters in Brussels. The current editor in chief is Vincent Slits. An online edition of the paper was started in 2001. The paper has been published in tabloid format since 2002.
La Libre was noted widely as one of the papers involved in a feud with Google relating to which content that could be linked and cached by Google. In July 2011, the paper was totally removed from Google News and Google's normal web search.
La Libre Belgique reached a record circulation of 190,000 copies in 1959. In 1990 the paper sold 170,000 copies. However, by 1999 it had dropped to 68,212 copies. The 2002 circulation of the paper was 61,463 copies with a market share of 9.6 percent. The circulation of the paper was 42,000 in copies in 2010. In 2016, the paper had a circulation of 35,500 with an online traffic of 1-5 million.