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Indymedia may be sued over photos

8 December 2007 - The Indymedia website refuses to remove photos and names of extreme right activists who beat up participants in a counter-demonstration which took place last February. Two right-wing activists have threatened legal action if Indymedia does not remove the photos.

Indymedia says the photos have news value because of the impact of the demonstration and because two of the right-wing activists will be tried in January. In addition, the men would have talked to a reporter of Nieuwe Revu magazine and therefore have become public figures of their own volition.

Indymedia’s lawyer, Job Hengeveld, further points out that the photos were taken at a public event. “The men on the photos have drawn attention to themselves by throwing punches at such a demonstration. You know that this is an event that attracts media attention. So you should not be surprised if photos are taken”, he told Webwereld.

According to Webwereld, the website did remove links to Indymedia’s photos at the urging of the right-wing activists’ lawyer. still has the link and a photo at its site.

Indymedia says that as a news medium, it has a right to publish the photos. “Even though Indymedia does not pretend to be objective, as most media do, we certainly are a journalistic medium!” Earlier this year, a Belgian court ruled that Indymedia Belgium should be treated as a journalistic medium.

In November, Indymedia removed a photo of prince Willem Alexander and princess Máxima posted on the Indymedia website by webzine Ravage. The Government Information Service had ordered other media to remove the photo.

Ravage said that journalistic freedom was at stake and that the Indymedia editors were behaving like ‘meek sheep’ in matters regarding the royal family. Indymedia countered that it did not find the issue important enough to spend resources on.

It has now become clear that the controversy over the photos of the extreme-right demonstration played an important role in that decision. “In view of the circumstances, [we have] had to make a choice as to which legal battle to fight, a choice that was in part determined by our determination to remain financially and editorially independent in the future as well”, Indymedia volunteer Libby explained.

Another consideration was that Ravage had not discussed posting the photo with Indymedia. “We do not like to be forced to do things; that would compromise our independence”.

Photo: Indymedia


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