Prize-winning blog threatened with legal action

first_imgNews July 7, 2011 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Prize-winning blog threatened with legal action to go further RSF_en Receive email alerts Follow the news on Tunisia December 26, 2019 Find out more Help by sharing this information Forum on Information and Democracy 250 recommendations on how to stop “infodemics” TunisiaMiddle East – North Africa Organisation center_img News News November 11, 2020 Find out more News Nawaat.org, a Tunisian blog that received the 2011 Netizen Prize from Reporters Without Borders, is threatened with legal action by Antoine Sfeir, a journalist and academic with dual French and Lebanese nationality, over a 20 March article by Lebanese journalist René Naba about the “Ben Ali dictatorship’s Lebanese sycophants.” Sfeir edits the magazine Les Cahiers de l’Orient.The lawsuit threat comes at time when Tunisia continues to face the possibility of generalized Internet censorship.Nawaat.org received a letter from Sfeir’s lawyer on 16 June demanding the article’s withdrawal within 48 hours under threat of a libel action. After getting no reply, his lawyer sent the same warning to Dreamhost, a US-based company that hosts the Nawaat.org website. Dreamhost passed the letter to Nawaat.org.Four other websites that had posted the article – Oumma, Palestine-Solidarité, Izuba and Reneaba – received the same warning.Reporters Without Borders condemns these intimidation attempts reminiscent of the Ben Ali era and points out that developing democracy requires respect for press freedom and free speech. The organization also urges Dreamhost not to yield to Sfeir’s pressure and to stand by its commitment to freedom of expression.In a joint statement, the five websites said they would not withdraw the disputed article and would fight for freedom of expression.Nawaat.org said the letter from Sfeir’s lawyer “mentioned no specific passage and just talked of defamation.” It is well known that anyone who disputes claims made in an article has the right of reply, the website said. “Demanding the complete withdrawal of an article without making prior use of the right of reply is tantamount to censorship,” Nawaat.org said. “Such censorship is all the more unacceptable as less than a fifth of the article refers to the plaintiffs.”Sfeir told Reporters Without Borders he was not necessarily demanding the withdrawal of Naba’s entire article, just the “defamatory” insinuations that he had personally received money from former President Ben Ali.Created in 2004, Nawaat.org is an independent collective blog operated by Tunisian bloggers. Access to the blog was blocked in Tunisia by the Ben Ali regime’s censorship apparatus. Eleven organizations from civil society create the Forum on Information & Democracy, a structural response to information disorder TunisiaMiddle East – North Africa Tunisia : RSF asks Tunisian president’s office to respect journalists November 12, 2019 Find out morelast_img

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