Edouard Perrin Charges Cast Doubt on Luxembourg's Press Freedom

    Luxembourg prosecutors have this week charged investigative journalist Edouard Perrin for his role in disclosures which sparked the recent LuxLeaks scandal, in a clear attack on press freedom and reporting in the public interest.

     

    Perrin was brought before a Luxembourg court on Thursday on suspicion of 'being a co-author, if not an accomplice, in the infractions committed by a former PricewaterhouseCoopers employee' according to a statement by the prosecutor. A complaint filed by the international accounting firm has already seen two former employees charged with 'violating business confidentiality', although the allegations against Perrin are unrelated to this case, according to Henri Eippers, a spokesman for the Luxembourg courts.

     

    Perrin, investigative reporter with the production company Premières Lignes, used documents passed to him to expose secretive 'tax rulings' which allowed several multinational companies to avoid tax bills to such an extent that they paid less than one percent of profit in many European countries. Perrin's May 2012 report for Cash Investigation, and a subsequent global investigation conducted in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists last year, caused a major scandal and triggered multiple inquiries throughout the European Union.

     

    The public interest argument in revealing Luxembourg's status as a tax haven within the EU, which damaged national treasuries during a widespread economic crisis, is clear and evident. The Reporters Without Borders Director, Lucie Morrilon said: The public had a right to know about Luxembourg’s now famous ‘rulings,’ which allow multinationals to avoid tax. Are the Luxembourg judicial authorities now defying the case law established by the European Court of Human Rights by punishing the journalist who first shed light on the scandal? 

     

    This case is a worrying development in a country which has already slipped 15 places in a single year under the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.The charges against Perrin seem likely to accelerate that decline.