Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva Sues French Website for Libel
Karimova-Tillyaeva filed suit against the independent French website Rue89.com over an article that allegedly identified her as the daughter of a "dictator" and characterized her charity work in France as an "attempt to whitewash" the reputation of Uzbekistan's repressive ruling regime.
French reporter Augustin Scalbert is accused of writing a "defamatory" article about her charity, and her lawyers are seeking €30,000 ($48,000) in damages.
The piece, published in May 2010, was titled, "AIDS: Uzbekistan Represses at Home, but Parades in Cannes” and discussed the Cinema Against AIDS events at the Cannes Film Festival which were co-chaired by Gulnara Karimova. Activists urged Karimova to raise the case of jailed HIV/AIDS campaigner Maxim Popov.
Scalbert believes that he is being targeted because he departs from mainstream French media coverage of Central Asia in discussing such topics as the 2005 Andijan massacre, RFE/RL reported:
"The mainstream French press doesn't do that," Scalbert says, noting that the major French television station TF1 has vested commercial interests in Central Asia with French industrial group Bouygues -- a major stakeholder in the company -- invested heavily in Turkmenistan, another autocrat-run country with a poor human rights record.
Plenty of other media around the world have called Karimov a "dictator" for years, but apparently the Karimov family has never tried a lawsuit abroad before. Journalists and human rights groups are constantly accused of "libel" at home for their critical statements about the regime.
Scalbert says he can document the claims in his article, and that in any event, a journalist can only be sued in France within three months of the appearance of an article.
“It will be interesting to discuss in court whether Islam Karimov is dictator or not,” uznews.net quoted Scalbert as saying. A court in Paris will begin hearing the case May 19.