Portugal violated journalist's rights, says European court

28th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Europe's human rights court on Tuesday ruled that Portugal violated the rights of journalist when it fined her for publishing privileged court documents.

In June 1999, Portuguese television journalist Sofia Pinto Coelho showed on air a copy of a court document indicated a senior police officer had been charged with leaking information about a major case.

The officer, who had recently been fired, was suspected of illegally disclosing the details of a case concerning a private university and a commercial company.

Pinto Coelho was convicted by a Portuguese court in October 2006 for disseminating copies of court information during the preliminary stages of a trial, an automatically punishable offence in Portugal.

She was given a 400 euro fine.

After losing two appeals in Portugal, Pinto Coelho filed her case with the European Human Rights Court in June 2009.

"Ms. Pinto Coelho's conviction had constituted a disproportionate interference in her right to freedom of expression," the Strasbourg-based court ruled Tuesday.

The court also found that Portugal's "absolute ban" on a particular type of information "was difficult to reconcile with the right to freedom of expression."

© 2011 AFP

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