In March, Global Voices Advocacy reported on Chilean Twitter user Rodrigo Ferrari, who was facing prosecution for operating a Twitter account that parodied millionaire Andrónico Luksic. We have good news about the case: the claim was dismissed by a court in Santiago, the nation's capital. However, the decision is not final and may be reviewed by the Court of Appeals.
In this small victory for online freedom of expression in Chile, where presidential elections will soon take place, the court established that the facts presented showed no evidence of “usurpation of identity,” as Luksic had claimed.
Chilean NGO Derechos Digitales [Digital Rights] is advising the defense. Derechos Digitales’ Director Claudio Ruiz declared:
“Esta acusación claramente constituía una amenaza grave a la libre expresión en Chile y dejaba de manifiesto el especial y particular celo con que ha actuado el Ministerio Público cuando se ha visto afectados los intereses de ciudadanos poderosos. Una verdadera democracia es aquella que protege los derechos y garantías del ciudadano común precisamente frente a casos como estos y, en ese sentido, estamos muy conformes con el dictamen del juzgado”.
The accusation was a direct threat to freedom of expression in Chile, revealing the special bias of the Office of the Prosecutor when the affected interests are those of powerful citizens. A real democracy is one that protects the rights and safeguards of the common citizen, particularly in cases like this one. In that sense, we welcome the ruling of the court.
The resolution of the Court is a good sign, particularly given upcoming presidential elections, a time when citizens of Chile must be free to express their opinions and disagreements on social networks.