12 Jul 2019 Lvl. 2
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Alert created on: 12 Jul 2019 Austria

Kyrgyzstani News Website 24.kg Facing Damages in Austrian Courts

Source of threatState
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner Article 19
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Partner Article 19
In April 2019, an Austrian court sentenced the Kyrgyzstani news website 24.kg to pay T&F Trade and Finance GmbH, a company quoted in an article on the breakdown of a business partnership in Kyrgyzstan, €40,000 in damages. T&F had argued that 24.kg’s qualification in the article of ‘pseudo investors’ was defamatory, but instead of pursuing legal action in Kyrgyzstan, T&F had relied on Article 1330 of the Austrian Civil Code to bring a civil law suit in Austria, where it is registered.

When publishing the article, the journalists acted in good faith, based on the evidence they had received, a spokesperson for 24.kg said. T&F’s version of events was subsequently published as well. Barbora Bukovska, Senior Director for Law and Policy at ARTICLE 19, denounced a case of ‘libel tourism”, a practice where wealthy plaintiffs use defamation laws in other jurisdictions to silence those who try to hold them to account elsewhere. She expressed concern that 24.kg is unlikely to get a fair trial in Austria on matters located in Kyrgyzstan and that the Austrian courts are being used to silence investigative journalism in Kyrgyzstan.

24.kg were without representation for the appeal hearing on 11 July 2019 at Vienna Commercial Court.
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