News

November 7, 2017

French court rejects Azerbaijani government’s defamation suit

Stephane de Sakutin / AFP

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) welcomes today’s decision by a court in the Parisian suburb of Nanterre to reject the Azerbaijani government’s defamation suit against French investigative journalists Elise Lucet and Laurent Richard.


“We are deeply relieved that Azerbaijan has failed to export its censorship to France,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “Any other decision would have opened a dangerous breach that would have allowed despots all over the world to come and persecute French journalists in France.”


The Azerbaijani government sued Lucet and Richard for referring to it as a “dictatorship” in radio and TV broadcasts in 2015. As far as RSF knows, it was the first time a foreign government brought a defamation suit of this kind against journalists before a French court.


Reporters Without Borders testified in court on 5 September, defending the two journalists and describing how their fellow journalists are persecuted in Azerbaijan, which is ranked 162nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.


Read RSF’s detailed press release about the case (4 September 2017)