Justice finally turns around. Mediapart is finally authorized this Wednesday to publish an investigation into Saint-Étienne mayor Gael Perdrio, initially censored by order.
Last Friday, the director of investigative media, Edwy Plenel, came to ask the Paris court “to put an end to the unprecedented encroachment on freedom of the press as soon as possible.”
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But the case was referred to the dismay of Mediapart, which was supported in the hearing by Reporters Without Borders, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), trade unions, the Human Rights League, and associations of judicial press and lawyers practicing the press. law.
Order to censor the publication of the investigation
In their opinion, an order urgently issued by the same court on November 18 at the request of the mayor of Saint-Étienne Gael Perdrio (ex-LR), referring to the invasion of privacy, without the ability of Mediapart to defend itself.
This decision forbids him from publishing new information taken from an audio recording of the elected representative from Saint-Étienne following a series of revelations in a blackmail case on an intimate video, “under the threat of a fine of 10,000 euros for the published extract.”
However, Mediapart’s investigation is of “great public interest,” Edwy Plenelel said, speaking of how the mayor uses “slander poison” as a “political weapon to discredit” opponent Laurent Vauchie, LR president of Auvergne-Rhône. Alps region.
It was about “nipping in the bud” “a very serious slanderous rumor” and “without any basis, according to its distributor,” the journalist added. First of all, “the court does not have the right to check in advance information that has not been published,” Mediapart’s lawyer Emmanuel Tordjman insisted.
“This is the seriousness of your decision,” he threw to Magistrate Violetta Baty, asking her to revoke her order.
“Legal disaster”, “heresy”… Lawyers for various supporters of Mediapart, in turn, sharply criticized the “unprecedented” decision, which “pulverizes the press law”, in force since 1881, believing that the judge was “deceived”.
“It is profoundly unfair to say that our goal was to undermine freedom of expression,” Christophe Ingrain, Gael Perdrio’s lawyer, defended me for his part, who was absent from the hearing, citing the right to privacy.
However, freedom of the press is at stake, according to a pro-Mediapart text signed by about 30 journalistic companies, including Le Monde, AFP, Liberation and BFMTV. They are generally concerned about the spread of “gag procedures” in France and recent lawsuits initiated by the Altice group (SFR, BFMTV) against the information site Reflets, which are seen as a “deviation” from press law.
In response to the procedure against Mediapart, centrist Senator Natalie Goulet introduced a bill last week to ensure that publication can only be “prohibited if a court decision rendered inconsistently is enforced.”
But “that doesn’t answer the question at all,” laments Dominique Pradalier, president of the IFJ, who would prefer “provisions to punish abuses of press freedom that are attacked from all sides much more severely.”