Home > France: website editor faces prosecution for posting union press release
France: website editor faces prosecution for posting union press releaseby Open-Publishing - Friday 1 December 2006
Reporters Without Borders today condemned a judge’s decision to open a judicial investigation against Roberto Ferrario, the editor of the left-wing website Bellaciao ( http://bellaciao.org ), in response to a libel suit by the Saint Nazaire-based shipyard, Chantiers de l’Atlantique, over a critical press release by the USM-CGT union that was posted on the site.
“Ferrario was not the author of the statement which Chantiers de l’Atlantique considered libellous,” the press freedom organisation said. “Bellaciao just published the entire statement, clearly indicating its provenance. A prosecution will be costly for Ferrario and could result in the site’s closure, which would be unacceptable.”
Reporters Without Borders added: “We call on Chantiers de l’Atlantique to withdraw their libel suit or, failing that, we urge the courts to nonsuit them.”
Ferrario was notified on 18 October that the case was being transferred to the public prosecutor. The union’s statement, released 16 September 2005 and entitled “Modern-day piracy,” accused the shipyard of “private sector banditry” and “mafia activity” and described its Polish employees as “modern slaves.” It is still posted on Bellaciao.
Philippe Kasse, who was Chantiers de l’Atlantique public relations officer when the offending statement was issued, told Reporters Without Borders: “We also brought a libel suit against the USM-CGT. I do not know why the judge decided to prosecute only the person who disseminated it and not those who wrote it. That said, a site should take responsibility for what it publishes. Other media mentioned the release, but none of them reproduced the exact language used by the USM-CGT which we consider defamatory.”
Bellaciao is an alternative left-wing website operated by an activist collective. A petition in support of Bellaciao and the USM-CGT is available online at: