Saturday, November 29, 2008

Harassment of the Press

The details of this story are disturbing: a former CEO of Libération was arrested in a pre-dawn raid and subjected to various humiliations. The reason for the arrest was an allegation of slander against a commenter on the newspaper's Web site. It already seems bizarre that the CEO of a newspaper can be held responsible for something said by a person not in his employ or under his control and merely posted on a Web site. But that a journalist should be treated as if he were a criminal for such an offense is clearly harassment. If such an incident occurred in, say, Russia, President Sarkozy would be the first to condemn it as an abuse and an attempt to intimidate the press. Perhaps he will have the good grace to condemn the same kind of abuse in France, where his denunciation would actually have some force. After apologizing, maybe he could do something about changing the law that allows such apparent intimidation to be cloaked in legality.

ADDENDUM: Both the PS and the UMP have expressed indignation over the affair.


Anonymous said...

I am not sure this is a case of intimidation of the press , the victim is no longer active in the newspaper, and if you read the full story, you will find out that when the "suspect" refused the body search, the police called the judge who insisted that it should be carried out anyway.

It looks more like vindication from
a judge who wanted to make him pay for not deferring to previous convocations.

The fact that a judge can push the law to its limits in such a way for personal reasons is indeed an outrage.

Anonymous said...

At the end of the Le Monde article ( accessible with your link) M. de Filippis, the journalist victim of police and judicial harassment, asks rhetorically: "on se demande dans quel pays on vit"; The answer is" dans la France de Sarkosy". Art, I think you are being disingeneuous at suggesting Sarkosy apologizes and change the law in favor of a freer press. Poutine and Sarkosy, when it comes to the independance of the press have more in common than opposing them.
Alain S

Leo said...

to set the record straight, this was not about a comment on the web site but about an article in the paper for which Liberation was sued. De Filippis, as the then "Directeur de la publication" (different from CEO) is the legal representative of the paper who is jointly liable with the writer in cases of alleged libel.
Of course, this excuses in no way the judge's attitude and the humiliating police procedures. Unfortunately in our beloved "Patrie des Droits de l'Homme", this is very frequent.
Eolas ha an excellent piece on this incident.

Alain S.
Unfortunately we do not owe this to Sarko. I say unfortunately because we could hope it would change in 2012 or 2017. This has been going on for ever with governments of all stripes. On of the many reasons to be ashamed of our judicial system.

Anonymous said...

Am I paranoid in thinking that this is no coincidence that this case deals with Free Telecom? This is always bad publicity being associated with such a disturbing news, and most articles I've read did gave an account of the story just like Free Tel had something to do with the violence of the raid.

Now there is a lot of real tension between the government and Free. They threaten not to comply to a future law making the providers responsible of cutting lines for any kind of law infringement. They did lobby EU a lot to get the 3G licence that Sakozy and Besson try to give to closer media friends. They bring some headaches on the mobile TV development.
Frederic Lefebvre, the main and extreme lobbyist for TF1 and M6 in the Assemblée, curiously condemned the violence of the raid "for such a futile issue" (ie: plainte pour diffamation de Free contre Libération). Lefebvre rarely takes that kind of position, while exceptionally defending french "left" media.

This might be really nothing but that kind of methods remind much of Clearstream , where media where heavily and intelligently used by Sarkozy.