Mediapart takes Bettencourt censorship case to European Court of Human Rights

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France’s highest court the Cour de Cassation has upheld the ruling that censored Mediapart's coverage of the Bettencourt affair. The decision confirms that more than 70 articles detailing the secret recordings made by the Bettencourt family's butler must remain suppressed, even though the revelation of the content of these very recordings has led to a string of scandals and high-profile judicial investigations. Editor François Bonnet says that faced with this anti-freedom stance by the top French courts, who have given the right to privacy complete precedence over the public's right to know, Mediapart has no choice but to appeal to Europe.

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The timing is bitterly ironic. On the same day that former president Nicolas Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation for 'active corruption' in a case arising from the wide-ranging Bettencourt affair, the French courts were deciding to “delete” the core of this very same Bettencourt affair from the press. This scandal, sparked by the revelation of secret recordings made by the Bettencourt family's butler, has led to a number of high-profile investigations and is, for example, the reason why former employment minister Éric Woerth and others are to stand trial next year on a range of charges. Yet on Wednesday July 2nd France's highest court the Cour de Cassation upheld the ruling by the court of appeal at Versailles on July 4th, 2013, censuring a whole series of articles by Mediapart on the Bettencourt affair that contained extracts from the tapes.