PARIS (Combined Sources)—A defamation suit against French journalists Elise Lucet, Laurent Richard and the television show Cash Investigation will be filed by lawyer Olivier Pardo on behalf of the Republic of Azerbaijan according to the French publication L’Express. The suit comes after journalist Elise Lucet confronted the First Lady of Azerbaijan, Mehriban Aliyeva, about her country’s human rights record, a testy exchange that was broadcast on French national television.
When Lucet asked Aliyeva whether she really believed that Azerbaijan was a land of tolerance during the opening of a photo exhibition in Paris called “Azerbaijan, Land of Tolerance,” Aliyeva said, “Yes, of course.”
When pressed about her country’s human rights record and the fact that it had many political prisoners behind bars, including activist Leyla Yunus and journalist Khadija Ismayilova, the First Lady said, “How can you say that? It’s not true… get correct information.”
As Aliyeva was whisked away, her bodyguards pushed Lucet away and did not allow her to ask any more questions, ordering her to “be silent.”
“We are in France,” Lucet responded, adding that “journalists can ask questions in France.”
Watch the exchange between journalist Elise Lucet and the First Lady of Azerbaijan
The exhibition was organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and took place in the center of Paris. Mehriban Aliyeva runs the foundation, named after her late father-in-law, who was president of Azerbaijan for a decade prior to his 2003 death.
Lucet’s report was broadcast on French national television by Cash Investigation on September 7. According to lawyer Olivier Pardo, authorities in Azerbaijan are “unhappy with the program and will file a complaint against the news organization, Elise Lucet and the host [Laurent Richard]” for coining the country as one of the most “ferocious dictatorships in the world.”
While in Paris, Mehriban Aliyeva had met with several high-ranking French officials, including French President Francois Hollande.
According to Aliyeva’s personal website, she met with Hollande on September 3 at the Elysee Palace. “Francois Hollande said France and Azerbaijan have built successful relations in such fields as economy, energy, information and communication technologies, space industry, agriculture etc. Noting that France was interested in extending relations with Azerbaijan, Francois Hollande expressed confidence these bilateral relations would be successfully developed in future too,” the website states.
First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva said Azerbaijani-French relations reached the level of “strategic partnership, adding that deepening ties with France is among her country’s key foreign policy priorities.”