Journalist Alice Taylor has won her defamation case against Mero Baze.
In 2019, Baze published several articles where he made claims she was a Russian spy/agent, was paid by the Russian state or Albanian Democratic Party, that her partner was the bodyguard of Lulzim Basha, and a militant, amongst other things. He also claimed that Exit was affiliated with the Opposition party.
At the time of the incident, Taylor was a contributor to Exit. She has since been employed with Exit since late last year.
The allegations made also accompanied Taylor having the approval of her residence permit revoked against all due process. She filed a complaint in the Administrative Court against the police, the Minister of the Interior, and the Ministry of the Interior over the issue.
The case was settled in favor of Tayor and she was granted the right to stay in Albania.
She then filed several defamation suits against the media that had authored and spread the allegations about her. They included Shqiptarja.com, lexo.al, and Gazeta Tema, run by Mero Baze. One case was filed against Gazeta Tema and a second against Baze himself.
Shqiptarja has taken down the articles but refused to issue a retraction.
The case with lexo.al was also won in her favor earlier this year. Now there is one case pending against Alfred Peza. It seems likely that considering the precedent set by the other two cases, that this case will follow suit.
Taylor was represented by Res Publica and lawyers Dorian Matlija and Irena Dule. They felt that the comments and allegations made in the articles were intended to be taken as fact and had multiple harmful effects on Taylor. They were not journalistic in nature, nor were they represented as an opinion.
The judge ruled that Baze had lied and he has been asked to remove the offending articles and publish the court decision on his site.
Taylor said: “I am happy with the outcome. I hope it will demonstrate to other journalists that there is recourse when you are attacked or smeared just for doing your job. We should be able to work without fear of being subjected to this kind of discourse. If we are, we have a duty to our colleagues and profession to seek justice. Journalism isn’t about attacking, denigrating, and inciting hatred, it’s about telling the truth, something Baze failed to do when he wrote about me.”
Neither Baze or his lawyer were in court for the announcement of the decision today. It’s not known if he will appeal.