Afrique Ameriques Asie Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
 
Switzerland14 February 2007

European court’s ruling in Stoll case will be crucial for press freedom in Switzerland

The verdict which the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issues in the case of SonntagsZeitung journalist Martin Stoll v. the Swiss federal government could lead to a reform of the Swiss criminal code and could have a major impact on the practice of journalism in Switzerland, Reporters Without Borders said today.

The 17-member Grand Chamber began considering the case on 7 February as a result of a request made by the Swiss government after a seven-member ECHR panel of judges ruled by four votes to three on 25 April 2006 that the Swiss authorities violated Stoll’s right to freedom of expression under article 10 of the European Human Rights Convention.

The case concerns two stories by Stoll in January 1997 that contained leaks from a “confidential” report by the then Swiss ambassador in Washington, Carlo Jagmetti, on negotiations with the World Jewish Congress about unclaimed Jewish assets in Swiss banks. Stoll was fined 800 Swiss francs in 1999 under article 293 of the criminal code for publishing “official confidential deliberations.” He appealed to the ECHR in 2001.

“This decision will be crucial,” Reporters Without Borders said. “If the ECHR upholds its ruling, Switzerland will probably have to amend its criminal code, especially article 293, to allow more press freedom. Whether article 293 is modified or repealed altogether, it is above all essential that it should no longer affect journalists. Such a reform would also have a direct impact on ongoing cases such as that of SonntagsBlick.”

A Swiss military court announced on 6 February that it had indicted three journalists working for the weekly SonntagsBlick for publishing a leaked document last year “dealing with supposed places of detention and interrogation methods used by the US foreign intelligence service (CIA).” The three journalists - Christoph Grenacher, Sandro Brotz and Beat Jost - face up to five years in prison for “violating defence secrecy.” According to the indictment, publication of the leaked document caused considerable damage to Switzerland’s strategic intelligence service.

The ECHR’s reexamination of the Stoll case has reopened the debate about the constraints on the practice of journalism as well as the responsibilities that journalists should accept. The definitive ruling which the Grand Chamber eventually hands down could lead to significant changes in the way investigative journalists work in Switzerland.




  In this country
18 April - Switzerland
Military court acquits three journalists with Zurich-based weekly
7 February - Switzerland
Three journalists to be tried before military court for publishing leaked fax about CIA prisons
27 April - Switzerland
Call for the decriminalization of press offences
10 February - Switzerland
Three journalists face prison for revealing existence of secret CIA prisons in Europe
16 October - Switzerland
Attempt to bomb Zurich offices of Kosovo newspaper Bota Sot

in the annual report
Switzerland - Annual Report 2008
Switzerland - Annual report 2007

Europe press releases
4 June - Kosovo
Rrokum TV station still excluded by national broadcasting network
2 June - Ukraine
Potential witness’s death deals severe blow to probe into journalist’s murder
2 June - Turkey
Woman journalist held for past five weeks on baseless charge of link to armed group
2 June - Russia
Journalist seeks asylum in Finland after being convicted for prison torture articles
29 May - France
Regrettable decision by appeal court to lift ban on magazine only if offending photo is covered up

Reports
5 February 2009 - Bulgaria
“Resignation or resistance, Bulgaria’s embattled press hesitates”
28 January 2009 - Russia
Fact-finding visit : Moscow double murder may have been linked to November attack on local newspaper editor
27 June 2008 - Turkey
Investigation report into the detention of journalist Haci Bogatekin, imprisoned for more than two months and facing ten and a half years in prison
archives

Sign the petitions
Uzbekistan
Jusuf Ruzimuradov

Europe archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives