Luxembourg high court reverses conviction of whistleblower

Luxembourg high court reverses conviction of whistleblower

The Luxembourg Court of Cassation on Thursday reversed [judgment, in French] the conviction of “LuxLeaks” whistleblower Antoine Deltour who had leaked thousands of documents revealing tax breaks for major companies.

Deltour, an employee at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), disclosed tax agreements between PWC clients, many of them large multinational companies, and the Luxembourg Direct Tax Authority. He had received a six-month suspended sentence and a €1,500 fine in March.

The first grounds of the appeal required the court to analyze Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF] concerning freedom of expression. The lower court had maintained that since Deltour did not obtain the documents with the initial intention to disclose them to the public, he could not be given whistleblower status and protection under Article 10. The high court disagreed and held that through application of Paragraph 2 of Article 10:

” [T]he appellate judges, by refusing to recognize a general character, covering all the incriminated facts committed in the same context and having resulted in the launching of the alert, to the cause of justification drawn from the status of whistleblower, violated, by false application, Article 10 of the Convention.”

The court found that the second and third grounds of appeal hinging on an analysis of Articles 461, 463, and 464 on theft and nonviolent robberies in the Luxembourg Penal Code [text] were unfounded.

However, the court was able to overturn the conviction solely on the first grounds of appeal regarding the legal status of whistleblower under Article 10 and rendered their judgment for Deltour. The court upheld a sentence and €1,000 fine for Deltour’s former colleague and fellow leaker Raphael Halet, finding that he was not a whistleblower.