Journalist in libel case is arrested and strip-searched

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A national political row has broken out after a French journalist accused of libel was arrested by armed police officers, dragged from his home in front of his young sons and detained.

According to the Paris-based International Herald Tribune, the police treatment of Vitorrio de Filippis, a former director of left-wing daily Libération, is being used by opposition politicians and rights groups as an example of the repressive climate facing French journalists.

The paper’s lawyer has questioned the methods used when libel is not punishable under criminal law. The alleged libel was made in a reader comment posted underneath a story on the Libération website in 2006. Under French law, he is considered to be the publisher.

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