French blogger arrested then sued

I’ve said before (twice) that it’s all happening in France. What I meant was the way in which so many people and businesses have embraced new media tools like blogs. What I certainly didn’t mean was attempts to silence a blogger because he posts comment and opinion that are critical of the mayor of the town in which he lives.

News via Loic:

Christophe Grebert, citizen blogger who was already arrested by the local police for his blog, is now sued by the city mayor because he comments how he does not like the way the city is managed every day on his blog.

The city has voted a budget of 29 000 € (!) to attack him. Christophe will be in front of judges on June 21st and had to borrow money from friends to organize his defense. If you would like to support him, Christophe just added a paypal tipjar donation button and already received close to $1000 of donations from fellow bloggers. I can’t believe this story and I hope of course he will win.

According to a post on Christophe’s blog, he’s being sued for defamation. While my French isn’t good enough to fully grasp all the detail in Christophe’s post, and neither am I an expert in anything to do with the Code Napoléon, I find it hard to believe that critical commentaries posted in his blog could be grounds for a lawsuit. And not only that, the fund to launch the lawsuit comes out of the town’s budget. Surely not the best way to spend money on behalf of the citizens?

France may well be the leading European country for the uptake of blogs, but something like this seems to be ridiculous. Good luck, Christophe!

11 thoughts on “French blogger arrested then sued

  1. It is even crazier than that: he is being used because he posted an extract of a newspaper article that was very critical to the Mayor of Puteaux. The newspaper is also being named as a defendant in the defamation suit.
    They would not stand a chance in the US, but hey “c’est la France”. Shameful, really.

  2. Why is anyone surprised??? We are talking about France! It’s a foreign country. They do not have the rights we have as set out in our constitution. To me, any shock about this happening just further illustrates to me that the people in the US take our constitution and bill of rights for granted. I’ve heard it a million times. We should be more like a European country. We shouldn’t let citizens have guns, we are the only country that does. We should monitor what people say so no ones sensibilities are hurt. We should change our constitution and bill of rights cause it was written by people that lived a long time ago and could not for-see the problems of today.
    Hog wash. This story is a prime example of why the men that wrote the constitution and bill of rights were genius.
    Let France burn. Maybe someday the citizens will wake up and gain their natural born rights.
    In the mean time, worry about the US falling a sleep about it’s freedoms!

  3. Never mind. I thought this was a US website. Good luck all you Europeans…

  4. That’s nothing. Someone here in Calgary set up a blog/website and highlighted a number of corrupt goings-on at the local police, including attacks on the chief of police. The site was shut down and the owner/hoster of the site (not the actual authors!) has been sued ($5,000 was the amount the owner/hoster had to pay in an out-of-court settlement).

  5. Thanks for sharing all those thoughts.
    Brock, I’m glad you added your second comment there as I was beginning to think your first comment was by some xenophobic American. Oh wait… 😉
    If Calgary was in the French-speaking part of Canada, Werner, I’d begin to think there might be some kind of connection here!

  6. It has been said over and over government is no longer able to control the flow of information, and the arrest and lawsuit can only backfire on whichever city this is. Silencing dissent in a very public forum like Christophe’s blog will not be taken lightly – especially if blogging is becoming very popular in France.
    As an American like Brock above, I am not surprised by this article. But, considering the author of this site just recently enjoyed a visit to France for Les Blogs, is British and lives in the Netherlands, I don’t think saying ‘France should burn’ will go over well.

  7. French blogger arrested then sued
    pouvez-vous me dire quelle est la ville SVP

  8. Dear Neville, you admit you do not read French very well… but it does not prevent you from having an opinion and publishing it.
    Do you know what is the precise reason of prosecution ? Have you seen, read and understood the text ? I’m French and I’ve found it no where…
    We do not know and have no proof of this event, except what the boy says. How do you know he says the entire truth ? because media relay it ?
    How can you judge a country from this ?

  9. Hear hear Sophie. I’m from Britain, living in France, after years in the States and you’re all forgetting (or never knew) that France has astonishingly strict privacy laws, which meant that papers were not allowed to print the news that everyone already knew that Mitterand had an illegitimate daughter. It also meant that until Emmanuelle Beart released a public statement saying she was pregnant, the papers couldn’t even print a picture of her with the bump, for fear of being sued.
    I don’t know the details of this case, and am, myself, fairly angry about this, it probably is a misinterpretation of privacy laws.
    However, learn a little bit about the massive differences between legal systems before you start blasting another country. Just because they have a different legal system, specifically, one where the individual’s right to privacy is privileged over right to free speech, it doesn’t mean it’s an evil country. Keep this in perspective people.

  10. Great comments, thanks.
    Sophie, your point is valid. I published an opinion. I don’t know how true any of the story is other than from what I’ve read on a variety of blogs. And indeed, my French is less than perfect, so looking for more detail on French-language blogs is difficult.
    But that’s the judgement call you have to make when you decide to also comment on something someone else has written. The blog I first read this story on is one whose writer I know and trust. So I believe that the broad outline I commented on presents a fair idea of what’s happening to Christophe Grebert in the town of Puteaux, and why.
    If the story isn’t true, well, I expect someone will publish the facts. And if I see such a post, I’ll comment on that too.
    EasyJetSetter, good point too re legal systems. As I said in my post, I have no knowledge of the French legal system.
    In any event, if this thing does reach court on June 21, no doubt all the details will be clearly stated. Hopefully someone will be able to get hold of a full English translation of the proceedings for the avoidance of any doubt in understanding!

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