Lawmaker Carlos Góngora of Movimiento Libertario is expected to file a civil suit now that the Sala IV has criticized Extra TV42 and the daily newspaper Prensa Libre for publishing a faked picture of the man that was circulating on the Internet.
The decision by the Sala IV opens the door to similar litigation by persons who think they have been offended by news reports.
While admitting the news value of the story, the Sala IV said that “The liberty of expression ought to develop in harmony with the other fundamental rights, among which are intimacy and honor.” The court decision said that just because the photo montage appeared elsewhere there was no justification for the news media to display it because this hurt more deeply the intimacy and honor of the lawmaker.
Both the television station and the newspaper are members of Grupo Extra. The flagship publication, El Diario Extra, said
Tuesday that the court decision puts in jeopardy liberty of the press.
Góngora was the victim of a photo montage that was doctored to put him in a sexual pose. La Extra did not run the montage but commented that the photos were of poor quality.
The lawmaker filed a criminal complaint against the anonymous person who distributed the montage at the beginning of May and also sent it to the other 56 legislators. As a result of the Sala IV decision, the lawmaker is expected to file a civil suit against the media company because the court said he should.
Basically the court said that editors would have to think about the impact on a news subject’s honor before publishing an article or photo. However, it did say that the story itself, about a presumed Internet crime affecting a lawmaker, was worthy of publication. The court also said that each situation should be analyzed independently. La Extra called the decision confusing.