Azerbaijan loses defamation case against French journalists

PARIS (AP) — An appeals court has upheld a lower court decision throwing out a case brought by the country of Azerbaijan which accused two French journalists of defamation for calling the country a “dictatorship.”

Wednesday’s ruling by the Versailles Appeals Court ends the case against Elise Lucet and the then-news director of France-2 TV, accused over a 2015 investigative report for the station. The report called Azerbaijan a “dictatorship … one of the most ferocious.”

The appeals court ruled that no state, including Azerbaijan, can bring defamation charges.

Free speech activists had called the actions of the former Soviet republic an effort to export censorship. At the trial a year ago, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders testified for the defense, as did an Azerbaijani journalist and exiled human rights activists.

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