Alexander Economou v. de Freitas
Decision Date: July 27, 2016
The U.K. High Court struck down a defamation claim by Alexander Economu who had been falsely accused of rape, finding in favor of the free speech rights of the alleged victim’s father. Economou, brought defamation proceedings against David de Freitas in relation to interviews de Freitas had with the press about his daughter’s eventual suicide which he blamed on the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) insensitivity to his daughter’s vulnerable mental state while conducting their investigation into her rape allegations against Economu. The Court found that it was important to take into consideration Mr de Freitas’ role as a father and that his statements should be viewed as “that of a source or contributor than that of a journalist” and it would be wrong to expect him to carry out the necessary checks and enquiries that the journalist is professionally expected to do prior to publication. The Court concluded that "Mr de Freitas could and did properly consider the publication to be in the public interest; and that a judgment in favour of Mr Economou would represent an interference with Mr de Freitas' free speech rights out of any reasonable proportion to the need to protect and vindicate Mr Economou's reputation."
The Case of Khasavyurt Magomednabi Magomed
Decision Date: October 24, 2016
The Caucasus Regional Military Court convicted a prominent Salafist Imam of glorification of and incitement to terrorism and sentenced him to five years in prison. The charges stemmed from the Imam’s sermon in which he criticized the closure of Salafist mosques and urged peaceful resistance. The Military Court heavily relied on expert testimony that analysed the content of the Imam’s speech. The expert opinion declared that the sermon contained statements that incited hatred towards law enforcement, the government, and non-Muslims. Following an appeal, the Russian Supreme Court upheld the conviction but slightly reduced the term of imprisonment to 4.5 years.
LLC SIBFM v. Roskomnadzor
Decision Date: June 6, 2016
The Moscow City Court upheld the decisions of two lower courts, which held that a humorous, digitally manipulated image of Jesus Christ was offensive to the religious feelings of Christians and contained elements of extremism. The case arose after Russia’s state-controlled media and information watchdog, the Roskomnadzor, sent a warning to an online portal, SIBFM, giving it notice that an image hosted on its site had to be taken down within 10 days because it incited extremism. The image in question was of three men in a typical Russian household setting with their faces being replaced by cut-outs of the faces of Jesus Christ, Vladimir Putin, and Alexander Pushkin.
Tagesspiegel v. Bundestag
Decision Date: November 20, 2015
The Higher Administrative Court in Germany affirmed the Lower Court’s decision ordering the Bundestag (German Parliament) to release a complete list of lobbyists who had been issued permanent entry passes finding this information was necessary for the press to report on issues of public interest in a timely manner. The German newspaper Tagesspiegel brought proceedings against the Bundestag following its refusal to release a list of lobbyists allowed entry to Parliament. The Court held that Tagesspiegel's claim for information didn't infringe the Bundestag’s members' ability to perform their duties freely or the lobbyists' right to personality, including the right to decide what happened to personal information. It reasoned that the requested information wouldn't reveal the identity of individual lobbyists, how often they visited or what is talked about. Further, the Court said that supplying the requested information wouldn't infringe the lobbyists' right to personality because both the lobbyists and the Bundestag's politicians voluntarily conduct their business in a public space.