Dutch journalist union, the Nederlandse Vereniging van Journalisten (NVJ), Wednesday filed a lawsuit in the EU Court of Justice challenging the EU’s ban on Russian state-backed media outlets. NVJ alleges the EU ban amounts to a restriction on EU citizens’ right to information and free press.
The EU banned the Russian state-backed channels Russia Today and Sputnik in Europe on March 2 as part of their sanctions against Russia. The EU claimed the channels produced propaganda to support the invasion of Ukraine.
Discussing the decision, general secretary of NVJ Thomas Bruning stated,
We are not fans of RT and Sputnik. We do not see the channels as news media, it is pure state propaganda. But in a constitutional state, disinformation should not be combated with censorship. If government leaders can independently prohibit information, it affects the democratic constitutional state as a whole.
The lawsuit has been supported by several Dutch internet providers including A2B Internet and Freedom Internet, as well as the Dutch digital rights group Bits of Freedom. Director of internet provider Freedom Internet Anco Scholte ter Horst said the EU ban’s requirement that internet providers block access to information is at odds with principle of net neutrality. Horst went on to say free and open internet is absolutely necessary to a democratic constitutional state.