French newspaper Liberation is facing legal action after erroneously attributing statements to a victim of an earthquake and publishing her photograph without prior consent on its controversial front page dated September 11.
The victim in question, Touria Sarka, depicted in a distressed state in the photograph featured by the newspaper, did not utter the words highlighted in the headlines of the September 11 edition. This fact has been confirmed by the newspaper itself.
In response to this situation, the legal representatives of Ms. Sarka, namely Robin Binsard and Mourad Elajouti, both lawyers licensed at the Paris and Casablanca bars, have opted to pursue legal action against Liberation.
On September 11, Liberation published a photograph portraying Mrs. Touria Sarka in distress due to the collapse of her house, accompanied by the headline “Help us, we are dying in silence.” However, she asserts that she never spoke those words; instead, at the time the photograph was taken, she exclaimed “Long live the King.”
The two lawyers asserted in their statement that their client’s account of the incident is corroborated by a video in their possession, widely circulated on social media and a copy of which is held by Moroccan news outlet H24info. The lawyers further emphasized that Liberation, seemingly driven by a sensationalist agenda, recklessly attributed words to their client that she never uttered.
This action could potentially constitute the crime of illicit assembly as defined in Article 226-8 of the Penal Code. Additionally, it violates her privacy by disseminating the photograph without her consent. The lawyers have formally requested Liberation to remove this misleading photomontage from its website and issue apologies to Mrs. Touria Sarka.
Should an appropriate response not be received, a complaint will be filed with the Public Prosecutor of Paris. The lawyers pointed out that this misleading photomontage is particularly detrimental in the specific context of Morocco’s perceived decision to decline aid from France.