10 Mar 2020 Lvl. 2
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Alert created on: 11 Feb 2020 n° 15/2020 Slovak Republic

Slovak Columnist Charged with Criminal Defamation for Criticism of Priest

Source of threatState
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner IPI CPJ
Partner IPI CPJ
Slovak authorities brought criminal defamation charges against a newspaper opinion writer accused of offending religious believers. The opinion writer, Michal Havran, is accused of defaming the faith of Catholic believers through a 2018 article in which he mocked and sharply criticized a Catholic priest, Marian Kuffa, a well-known public figure who is known for his radical social views and links to the far-right People’s Party – Our Slovakia (L’SNS). The article, which strongly criticized the priest’s social and political influence, was published in the leading Slovak daily SME. Police investigators concluded that Havran’s article called for the suppression of religious people’s freedom of expression and “defames the expressions of their faith”, and charged him with defamation on account of religious belief under Article 423 of the Slovak Criminal Code. The charges carry a potential sentence of one to three years in prison. Havran is further charged with slander, which also carries a possible jail sentence in Slovakia.
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