A court in Athens has rejected a lawsuit filed against the fact-checking organisation Ellinika Hoaxes by the Union of Greek Physicists. The Union had brought the proceedings after the fact checkers published a series of articles debunking misleading and pseudo-scientific statements made by its members – including a claim by one Union member that he had “invented” a generator capable of producing unlimited hydrogen fuel using water. Alleging the improper processing of personal data and insult, the Union demanded 700,000 euros in compensation. The FLSI supported Ellinika Hoaxes’ defence in the case.

The judgment, handed down on 1 February, highlighted that the plaintiffs had not been able to point to any facts or evidence that was capable of contradicting the fact checkers’ claims. It considered that Ellinika Hoaxes’ criticism was within the bounds of journalistic ethics and rejected all allegations of defamation and insult. Furthermore, the Court found that Ellinika Hoaxes’ use of images and publications of the plaintiffs did not constitute illegal processing of personal data, as this data was already in the public domain.

We consider this judgement to be a personal vindication, but first and foremost we view it as a victory for the important ideal of freedom of the press. We hope that this judgment will set a precedent that will help ensure that investigative journalists and fact checkers can continue their work unimpeached, regardless of the position of power that a person they cover might hold.”

Thanos Sitistas, Senior Editor, Ellinika Hoaxes

 

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