LuxLeaks verdict: A mixed feeling

Citizens, always mobilized

On Wednesday, March 15, more than 100 citizens came to listen to the Court of Appeal’s decision on the LuxLeaks case. From 2 pm, representatives of the various support groups, civil society and MEPs spoke briefly in front of the courthouse, underlying their support for the defendants and the need to protect whistleblowers.

When the three defendants arrived to hear the verdict, it was therefore, as always, surrounded by their supports and under the encouragement of many citizens.

In our quality of Support committee for Antoine Deltour, we would like to extend our warmest thanks to all the citizens involved, and to all the organizations that participated with us to this gathering!

Members of the Support committee chanting, grouped behind a sign “Tax justice, thank you Antoine!”
The support committee, always mobilised
© Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour – CC BY-SA 4.0

The verdict

At 3 pm, Luxembourg judge Michel Reiffers announced the verdict: while Antoine is acquitted for violation of professional secrecy and violation of trade secrets, the court nevertheless upholds a conviction for theft offenses, fraudulent maintenance in a database, and laundering of acquired data. Antoine is therefore sentenced to a 6-month suspended jail time and a 1,500 € fine.

The other whistleblower, Raphaël Halet, is sentenced to a 1,000 € fine. The journalist Édouard Perrin is acquitted.

In pronouncing these sentences, the Court of Appeal strictly followed the prosecution of Advocate General John Petry.

Antoine walks in the court’s hall, Mr. Penning on his left gauche and Mr. Bourdon on his right
Antoine arriving to the courthouse with his lawyers
© Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour – CC BY-SA 4.0

A small victory…

Although the condemnation is upheld, we must first of all welcome a certain moral and legal victory: for the first time in Europe, a national judge recognizes the justificatory fact of whistleblowing in the disclosure of professional secrecy, in good faith and in the public interest. This judgment, in line with the criteria of the European Court of Human Rights, constitutes an undeniable legal step forward.

Close-up of Antoine answering to journalists, with Mr. Bourdon
Antoine interviewed at the end of the hearing
© Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour – CC BY-SA 4.0

… but a blatant lack of courage

However, by insisting on a conviction at all costs, and sticking to the penalties required by the prosecutor, the Court of Appeal clearly lacks courage. The reason of Antoine’s condemnation is that he has “fraudulently and knowingly acquired confidential documents”. In a very incoherent manner, Antoine is therefore acquitted as a whistleblower for having transmitted the documents to the journalist, but sentenced for the acquisition of the very same documents! Maybe he would have needed to ask his hierarchy’s consent before blowing the whistle?

The Luxembourg judges thus lacked a “final kick” to go through the end of their reasoning and to decide on a complete acquittal. This condemnation, symbolically heavy, confirms the need for European legislative progress on whistleblowers’ protection.

Numerous journalists surrounding Antoine and his lawyers, with boom mikes and cameras
Journalists in the court’s hall
© Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour – CC BY-SA 4.0

And now?

Antoine will now have to read carefully the judgment of the Court of Appeal, and to take a decision of either appealing in cassation or, on the contrary, stopping his judicial fight. Let’s wish him strength through this decision to be taken with a cool head and with the advice of his lawyers.

The Support Committee and all the citizens accompanying him through his fight will be present on Antoine’s side, whatever he decides!

Group photo of the three defendants and their lawyers, in front of the courthouse
The defendants and their lawyers
© Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour – CC BY-SA 4.0

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