Libyan case: Mediapart wins appeal against Herve Gattegno


In the columns of Vanity Fair, then in those of Sunday Diary – of which he assumes today the direction at the same time as that of Paris Match -, the journalist Herve Gattegno has continued to challenge the revelations of Mediapart in the Libyan case and to question the judicial information in which Nicolas Sarkozy is indicted. Marrying the defense of the former President of the Republic, this media campaign continued last summer (read here my post in response to the JDD), in particular in contempt of the three judicial decisions which, until the end of the year, attested to the authenticity of the Libyan document revealed by Mediapart in 2012, confirming that it is neither a false material nor a false intellectual (1).

However, based on pieces of the judicial investigation of Libyan financing, Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske showed, in a survey published on Mediapart on November 14, 2016, that this stubbornness did not belong to journalistic pluralism and was well beyond a difference of opinion between media and journalists. That's what the article entitled "How Djouhri maneuvers the press to stifle the Libyan affair", announced in these terms: "With you and Lagardere group spokesman Ramzi Kiroun, or JDD director Herve Gattegno, the intermediary Alexandre Djouhri has spent a lot of time orchestrating the media's denials or counter-offensives. deal with Nicolas Sarkozy's Libyan investments ».

After having sent us two rights of reply (they are right here and the), which we published in full even though it did not respect the formal legal rules, Herve Gattegno decided, on February 14, 2017, to sue us for public defamation. This unusual trial made by a journalist to other confreres (Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske, authors of the article, and me as director of the publication) concluded, in first instance, by a judgment of January 22 2019 which condemned Mediapart, including our lawyer, Emmanuel Tordjman of Seattle, immediately appealed as he did not do right to our arguments.

It is this judgment that was overturned by the Paris Court of Appeal, under the chairmanship of Anne-Marie Sauteraud, with Sophie-Helene Chateau and Francoise Petureaux as counselors. Relaxing Mediapart and unsuccessful Herve Gattegno all his requests, this judgment of eighteen pages, dated November 21, 2019, notes that the article questioned "Is justified by a sufficient factual basis, based in particular on undenatured minutes revealing very close and close links between Alexandre Djouhri and Herve Gattegno, thus permitting to attribute to him a participation in the misinformation company" denounced ".

" In these conditions, continues the court, and as part of an article on the role of the press and its links to justice in a democratic society, which is of major public interest, especially in the case of suspicion of illegal electoral financing , the conviction of journalists, pursued by another journalist, would constitute a disproportionate infringement of the fundamental right to freedom of expression, as well as the right of the public to be informed, guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms ".

"In the light of these circumstances, concludes the judgment, the permissible limits of freedom of expression have not been exceeded in the present case and the defendants will be removed from prosecution for the purpose of reversing the judgment. ". Earlier, the Court of Appeal had been careful to point out, with its own words, the defamatory nature of what our investigation attributed to Herve Gattegno: "Being allowed to maneuver, as well as other media outlets, through Alexander Djouhri, which he was very close, in order to stifle the case of Libyan financing Nicolas Sarkozy.

And the court to add this analysis: "Such conscious participation in a misinformation enterprise to protect a politician is manifestly contrary to the ethical rules of the journalist profession and to common morality". An analysis that is self-explanatory.


(1) Mediapart sent this summer several rights of reply to the Sunday Diary whose articles, under the signature of its director, Herve Gattegno, questioned the rigor, honesty and loyalty of our investigative work in the Libyan case. None of them have been published.

Club is the free expression space of Mediapart subscribers. Its contents do not engage the writing.

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