The European Federation of Journalists
(EFJ), today welcomed a major legal victory for protection of journalists'
sources in France
in the ongoing "Woerth-Bettencourt" case, a high-profile scandal mixing
business and political financing.
Court (Cour de Cassation) ruled that judge Philippe
Courroye, who initiated a procedure to identify information leaks in the "Woerth-Bettencourt"
case in September 2010, had infringed the law on protection of sources by
trying to access detailed phone records of three journalists working at the
daily newspaper Le Monde.
"We welcome a decision that is in
line with case-law from the European Court of Human Rights," said Arne
König, EFJ President. "Finally French journalists can see a light at the
end of the tunnel after many cases that have violated the principle of protection
of sources in the country in recent months."
to today's ruling, "the infringement of the confidentiality of journalists' sources was not justified by the existence of an overriding public interest and the measure was not
strictly necessary and proportionate to
the legitimate aim pursued".
EFJ now hopes that this decision will help other colleagues to enforce their
rights. A reporter for the Tribune newspaper was summoned on 2
December 2011 by the French
financial watchdog (Autorité des Marchés Financiers, AMF)
for information about the allocation
of a railway contract in April 2010. Le Monde journalists had also been
subject to legal proceedings in Marseille in which a
prosecutor attempted to access telephone records as part of
a case relating to organised crime in Corsica.
A French law of 2 January 2010 states that "the
confidentiality of sources can be directly or indirectly affected only if an
overriding public interest justifies it". The EFJ has made clear on several occasions
that this law must be respected.
from the European Court of Human Rights has also confirmed that protection of
sources is an essential element of press freedom.
members in France
are the Syndicat national des journalistes (SNJ), the Syndicat national des
journalistes SNJ-CGT and the USJ-CFDT.
For more information, please contact EFJ on + 32 2 235 22
The EFJ is the European group of the International Federation of
The EFJ represents more than 260.000 members in over 30 countries