Judgment 14139/21

Applicant name NARBUTAS
Applicant type Natural person
Number of applicants 1
Application no. 14139/21
Date 19/12/2023
Judges Arnfinn Bårdsen, President,
 Jovan Ilievski,
 Egidijus Kūris,
 Pauliine Koskelo,
 Frédéric Krenc,
 Diana Sârcu,
 Davor Derenčinović
Institution Court
Type Judgment
Outcome Art. 8 Violation
Reason Not necessary/no interest
Type of privacy Reputation
Keywords Even if;
Facts of the case During the Covid pandemic, applicant acted as an intermediary for buying medical equipment by the Lithuanian state. Later, he was charged for illegal commerical operations. The applicant complained that the investigating authorities had damaged his reputation by disclosing his name and employment history on the day of his arrest, escorting him to a court hearing in front of journalists and regularly commenting on the case in the media. He alleged that these actions had violated his rights under Article 6 § 2 and Article 8 of the Convention.
219.  The Court, being the master of the characterisation to be given in law to the facts of the case, considers that this complaint falls to be examined solely under Article 8
Analysis The Court quickly accepts an interference, that the interference had a legal basis and served a legitimate aim, but it has doubts: ‘While the Court has doubts with regard to the aim pursued, specifically, by the disclosure of the applicant’s identity, it considers that it is more appropriate to address that issue when assessing whether the measure in question was necessary in a democratic society. Accordingly, it accepts that the impugned interference pursued a legitimate aim within the meaning of Article 8 § 2. para 246’

The Court walks through its standard criteria for balancing the various interests at stake when repuational harm is done by the press release concerning the applicant. (a) As to the question as to what extent the publication was in the public interest, the court confirms that the purchase of goods in light of the pandemic and potential unlawfull actions connected to that is in the public interest. (b) The applicant was not a public figure, although not unknown to the public eye due to various previous positions. (c) Applicants conduct did not reduce his right to protection under the Convention. (d) As to the content of the publication, the Court questions whetehr it was necessary to disclose the identity of the applicant and finds that the prosecutor’s statements clearly went beyond providing the public with information of a general nature and that it cannot be said that in releasing them the authorities proceeded with caution. The Court also emphasises that all the press releases and articles reproducing the authorities’ statements were available online and that the risk of harm posed by content and communications on the Internet to the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and freedoms, particularly the right to respect for private life, is certainly higher than that posed by the press, particularly on account of the important role of search engines.  There has accordingly been a violation of Article 8 of the Convention.
Other Article violation?Yes, 5, 10 and P1-1, No 3
Damage awarded that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, the following amounts:
(i) EUR 768.94 (seven hundred and sixty-eight euros and ninety-four cents), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of pecuniary damage;
(ii) EUR 26,000 (twenty-six thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage;
Documents Judgment