Centrist Senator Natalie Goulet introduced a bill to protect the press following revelations by Mediapart director Edwy Plenel, who confirmed on Monday that justice prevented an investigative website from publishing information taken from an audio recording. The article targeted by this procedure concerns a sex tape blackmail case involving the mayor (LR) of Saint-Étienne Gael Perdrio.
“We cannot leave the situation as it is and no longer defend the press,” Commissioner for Culture President Laurent Lafont (centrist) said on Tuesday. According to him, this decision of the Paris court, issued urgently on Friday, November 18, “casts doubt on one of the fundamental freedoms – the freedom of the press.” “It was important to respond quickly and express our support to the press,” added Laurent Lafont.
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Thus, the article introduced on Tuesday is intended to supplement the law of July 29, 1881 on freedom of the press by adding that “publication can only be prohibited by application of a judgment rendered inconsistently.” “This is a consistent aspect that destroys the law on the press (…) it is tantamount to a priori censorship,” explained Natalie Goulet.
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According to the senator, who is a lawyer by profession, an order on request is a “classic, urgent” procedure, but used “in a completely unprecedented way in the press.”
“Against Fundamental Rights”
For its part, the communist-majority CRCE group assessed in a press release that “controversy and the right to a fair trial were not respected with respect to Mediapart.” “Every part of this decision is clearly contrary to fundamental rights and opens the way for a new condemnation of France by the European Court of Human Rights,” the group said.
“Without assessing the substance that relates to justice, the decision (…) fundamentally raises questions,” the deputies of Nupes reacted in a joint press release. “In a democracy and a proper rule of law, it is inconceivable that pre-publication and non-conflict censorship can be used against the press,” they said.
On Monday, investigative media denounced “unprecedented prior censorship.” “Mediapart was not informed about this procedure, and the decision was taken by the court, and our newspaper was unable to protect its work and its rights,” said the publication’s director, Edwy Plenel. The ruling prohibits the publication of “new revelations of the political practices of the mayor of Saint-Étienne, based in part on the same recordings that allowed us to uncover the blackmail scandal, on a sex tape of which his first deputy, the centrist Gilles, was the victim. Artigues, he said.