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26.01.2016 | freedom of speech

victory for truth in Armenia

victory for truth in Armenia
MLDI writes: Journalist and human rights activist Zhanna Alexanyan has been vindicated in Yerevan, Armenia, with an appeals court rejecting a complaint accusing her and her organisation, Journalists for Human Rights, of publishing false news.     

The case stemmed from Alexanyan`s coverage of a high-profile 2014 case in which bailiffs had intervened to restrain the plaintiff`s lawyer, Ruben Baloyan, in his aggressive behaviour towards defence counsel, Nikolay Baghdasarian. Alexanyan reported Baloyan`s outburst in an article on the Journalists for Human Rights website, which served as the basis for the Chamber of Advocates’ initiation of disciplinary proceedings against Baloyan that same day.     

Baloyan wrote to Journalists for Human Rights claiming that Alexanyan had published false information and demanding refutation. Journalists for Human Rights published this letter along with Alexanyan’s comments, in which she refused to refute any of the previously published information. He then initiated legal proceedings against Alexanyan and Journalists for Human Rights for publishing "false news", asking for a refutation to be published on the NGO’s website.     

MLDI provided financial support for Alexanyan’s defence. MLDI’s Legal Director, Nani Jansen, welcomed the acquittal and said that, “this is a victory for media freedom and human rights reporting. MLDI is concerned at the nature of the claim brought – the offence of publishing `false news` arguably contravenes international human rights law, and a case against Armenia challenging that is pending at the European Court of Human Rights. We urge the Armenian authorities to refrain from bringing any new "false news" prosecutions until the European Court has adjudicated that case.”  
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