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Switzerland fined for blocking WEF journalist

Switzerland has been fined by the European Court of Human Rights for preventing a journalist from witnessing protests at the 2001 World Economic Forum event in Davos.

The freelance journalist wanted to cover the effects of the protests on the local restaurant and hotel trade for the Gastro News publication.

The 51-year-old was travelling from Klosters to Davos on a public bus on January 27, 2001 – a day when an unauthorised demonstration was due to take place. The bus was boarded by police checking passengers' identification and the journalist was sent back to Klosters despite showing his press card and having told the police he wanted to attend the Public Eye on Davos conference, an event that is open to all.

The journalist, who lives in canton Lucerne, complained to the Graubünden cantonal authorities, who said the police action had not been "disproportionate". The federal court in 2004 found "his profession and professional reputation had not been affected as a result of the ban on accessing the forum".

The European Court in Strasbourg however ruled on Thursday that the journalist's freedom of expression had been compromised as he had intended to travel to the location to write an article.

The government has been ordered to pay the journalist damages of €1,026 (SFr1,556) and €7,000 for his court costs. and agencies


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