UN Agency Files Criminal Complaint Against Geneva Journalist (Bloomberg wire)
- 29th April 2017
By Andy Hoffman and Hugo Miller
(Bloomberg) — The World Intellectual Property Organization, an agency of the United Nations, filed a criminal complaint against a Geneva journalist after the reporter published a story in January that cited allegations of corruption made against Francis Gurry, the head of the agency.
The journalist, who is with Swiss online radio station World Radio Switzerland, was questioned by Geneva police this week as an “accused person,” his lawyer Matthew Parish, said in an interview. The journalist denies the allegations and has not been charged, Parish said. The complaint was first reported by the newspaper Le Temps.
The agency filed the complaint after “an item was published by WRS containing false allegations that were defamatory to the Director General, to WIPO and to its leadership.” Samar Shamoon a WIPO spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement. “WIPO referred its concerns regarding the WRS item to our host government for transmission to domestic authorities and action in accordance with applicable local law.”
In October, WIPO closed an investigation into alleged misconduct by Gurry, the Australian director-general of the body which coordinates patent protection worldwide, and said it would take no further action against him. A March 2016 report from the
UN’s Office of Internal Oversight said that Gurry acted inappropriately by intervening in the bidding for a cybersecurity contract that was awarded to an Australian supplier. Gurry has repeatedly denied all allegations against him.
Parish, who has represented employees in several disputes with WIPO, said his client was questioned for two and a half hours. He also said that the article in question is no longer on the WRS website.
Under Swiss criminal law, convictions for criminal defamation can result in fines or prison. Henri Della Casa, a spokesman for the Geneva Prosecutor’s Office, declined to confirm or otherwise comment on the case.
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