Lambros Katsonis v Makarios Drousiotis, Interlocutory Decision Issued 23 December 2022
3 January 2023
Lambros Katsonis v Makarios Drousiotis Interlocutory Decision, Issued 23 December 2022, is a seminal decision for the protection of freedom of expression.
The District Court of Nicosia declined to issue an interim order restraining the circulation and distribution of Makarios Drousiotis’ latest book – Mafia State: How the mafia state suspended the Rule of Law in Cyprus: Oligarchs, Money Laundering, Bribes, Surveillance. The book, which was published in October 2022, reveals Drousiotis’ findings on serious instances of corruption by the President of the Republic of Cyprus and describes the unlawful interferences with Drousiotis’ personal devices, including his personal computer and archives containing sensitive material related to his investigation into the influence exercised by the Government of the Russian Federation and/or its agents on the Government of the Republic of Cyprus.
Drousiotis challenged Katsonis’ application for an interim order arguing that the book, which describes how Katsonis installed software that amounted in effect to spyware and enabled the unlawful interference with Drousiotis’ personal computer and archives, is a lawful exercise of his right to freedom of expression as it is based on the conclusions of forensic experts and publishes the findings of his investigations and personal conclusions.
Judge Theodorou found that the cause of action alleging unlawful use of personal data was essentially libel in disguise and therefore careful scrutiny by the court was required, particularly as to the plaintiff’s underlying motives. He concluded that, in essence, the cause of action aimed to protect Katsonis’ commercial interests, which weakened his case that the information concerned was private and, in any event, rendered an award for damages entirely adequate as means for redress. Judge Theodorou also took into consideration the fact that Katsonis entirely failed to challenge Drousiotis’ position that he can prove the veracity and truth of his publication.
Drousiotis was represented by Garden Court North Chambers associate member Leto Cariolou.