Reporters Without Borders (RSF) regrets today’s iniquitous and disturbing decision by a Luxembourg appeal court to impose a suspended prison sentence and fines on the two “LuxLeaks” whistleblowers who exposed Luxembourg’s gigantic system of tax avoidance for multinationals.
Even if the appeal court’s sentences were slightly less than those handed down at the original trial, they send a strong intimidatory message.
Former PricewaterhouseCoopers employees Antoine Deltour and Raphaël Halet, and Edouard Perrin, the journalist who published their leaks, had sought their acquittal. But the court gave Deltour a six-month suspended jail sentence and fine of 1,500, and Halet a fine of 1,000 euros. Only Perrin was acquitted, as he was at the original trial.
“This decision is iniquitous and disturbing,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “The trial should not have taken place because the information revealed by the LuxLeaks case was clearly in the public interest. Who can claim that the public does not have the right to be told about the tax optimization methods used by leading multinationals and the preferential treatment they get from certain governments?
“The trade secrets directive adopted by the European Parliament in April 2016 has a clause that refers to article 11 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights protecting journalists, their sources and the ‘freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority.’ At the very least, Luxembourg’s justice system should have accepted this principle.”
The appeal court’s decision is not worthy of Luxembourg or its ranking in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index – 15th out of 180 countries.