Lawyer defends Chinese paper

Cites freedom of expression. ‘There is no libel, simply an attempt to silence critics’ of Falun Gong, court told

A lawyer cited freedom of expression yesterday in defending a local Chinese-language newspaper against a potential $25-million libel suit launched by practitioners of Falun Gong.

“There is no libel, simply an attempt to silence the critics,” Julius Grey told Quebec Superior Court Justice Jeannine Rousseau on behalf of his client, Les Presses Chinoises.

Grey said it is difficult to prove that any of the 256 plaintiffs were directly targeted by the opinion pieces and advertisements denouncing Falun Gong that were published in the weekly Les Presses Chinoises between November 2001 and February 2002.

He noted in his closing arguments that none of the claimants could identify themselves nor could others recognize any of them by reading the material.

“The articles are indeed critical of Falun Gong, but not of anyone specific here,” Grey said, referring to the plaintiffs crammed into the large courtroom.

“There is no libel against anyone,” he added. “The evidence is entirely irrational.”

Lawyer Michael Bergman has been arguing that his clients have been defamed by what he called hate literature against the traditional spiritual discipline.

Bergman maintains the plaintiffs suffered as a direct result of the printed material, which he described as “repeated Chinese propaganda” that was later reported in China.

Twelve plaintiffs testified in November they were detained in Chinese labour camps and tortured for participating in the Falun Gong movement, outlawed by the Chinese government in 1999.

Their suit, seeking $100,000 in damages for each claimant, also names Les Presses Chinoises publisher Crescent Chau and writer Bing He as defendants.

Most of the claimants and some of their supporters have been demonstrating Falun Gong movements outside the Montreal courthouse and at Sun Yat-Sen Park in nearby Chinatown in the morning and early afternoon since closing arguments began Monday.

Those final summations are expected to end today.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Montreal Gazette, Canada
Feb. 26, 2004
Mike King

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday March 1, 2004.
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