Following the court decision in the defamation case brought by journalist Alice Taylor against Mero Baze, lawyer Dorian Matlija from Res Publica who worked on the case has given a statement.
“We can say without hesitation that Alice Taylor suffered an orchestrated defamatory campaign with the sole purpose to damage her reputation as a journalist that dared to criticize the government. All of the media portals that were sued in court were not able to prove any facts. This tells us the true motivation of that defamatory campaign.”
In March 2019 when Taylor was pregnant and suffering complications related to the pregnancy, she was subjected to a wide-ranging smear campaign, led by portals like Gazeta Tema, Shqiptarja, Lexo.al, and involving individuals such as Mero Baze and Alfred Peza. At the same time, her residence permit approval was revoked without notice or reason causing her great distress.
She won her case with the authorities for her right to stay in Albania, and then she chose to file defamation suits against the portals that had published numerous allegations about her. They included that she was a Russian spy/agent/employee of the Russian state, affiliated with and linked to the Albanian opposition, that her partner was employed by the Opposition, and that Exit.al was opposition-affiliated.
Today the court reiterated that these allegations were untrue, following on from a similar verdict earlier this year against lexo.al.
“This is the second time that Tirana’s Court finds for Alice Taylor after the first decision was against lexo.al, where the court ordered the same measures to be taken, to delete the defamatory articles from the online media outlet. A third case, against Alpe News of the journalist Alfred Peza, is pending and most probably will have the same result.”
“Today the court found that Mero Baze lied in all articles published for Alice Taylor and ordered him to delete the articles. The court ordered Mero Baze to publish in a visible way in Gazeta Tema the decision of the court.”
He added that the judge noted that journalists should be respected in terms of freedom of speech, but that what Baze published was defamatory and “outside the scope of protection of freedom of speech.” It was found that even though some statements were claimed to be merely opinions, they were constructed in such a way that they crossed the border of freedom of expression.
It’s not known if Baze will appeal the verdict. Neither him nor his lawyer attended the hearing.