Press freedom

Journalist receives warning over ADR insult

The ADR’s members of parliament, Jeff Engelen, Fernand Kartheiser, Roy Reding and Fred Keup (l.t.r.) Library photo: Romain Gamba / Maison Moderne

The ADR’s members of parliament, Jeff Engelen, Fernand Kartheiser, Roy Reding and Fred Keup (l.t.r.) Library photo: Romain Gamba / Maison Moderne

Dhiraj Sabharwal--editor-in-chief of Luxembourg daily Tageblatt and political journalist--has received a warning with no further action by the public prosecutor’s office over insults traded with members of the right-wing ADR party.

Fernand Kartheiser and Fred Keup (both ADR) in January filed a legal complaint against Sabharwal after he had called their party a group of “vile scumbags” during a radio programme.

The editor-in-chief, speaking during a programme that also included other editors, had said the party’s ideas and behaviour were “dangerous”, adding that “there are moments in a country, too, where you have to say: it’s enough.”

Sabharwal’s comments came after Roy Reding, a member of the ADR, had posted the personal phone number of a Tageblatt journalist in an anti-vaccine Telegram chat, leading to death threats against the journalist. Reding later said he had posted the number by accident.

The public prosecutor closed the case by issuing a warning to Sabharwal. “I think that this is an elegant solution to say that, when you criticise something--like what I criticised with the ADR--you need to do this in normal words,” the Tageblatt editor-in-chief told Radio 100,7 in a comment.

Sabharwal said he spoke in the heat of the moment and welcomed the prosecutor’s decision, which does not include a fine or any further legal proceedings.

The ADR in a statement on Monday said the prosecutor had “confirmed” the legitimacy of their complaint by issuing the warning. “Freedom of opinion and the press also include responsibility,” the party said. “With this decision, the public prosecutor's office shows that our highest good of freedom of opinion should not be abused for personal insults.”

The party said it would also forward the case to Luxembourg’s press council.