Did you hear the one about the newspaper columnist who got tossed in jail in Hungary for criticizing wine from a state-owned winery? Fortunately, the European Court of Human Rights sprung him. From the original story:
Péter Uj trashed the celebrated TF1/LCI Sour wine, produced by the state-owned T. Zrt, in a column for Hungary’s daily newspaper. He said the wine was overly oxidized and used poor-quality ingredients, but “hundreds of thousands of Hungarians drink [this] shit with pride.”
After the column ran, he was convicted for libel in 2009 because the court found that Uj had unnecessarily insulted and infringed the wine producer’s right to a good reputation. His conviction was subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court in May 2010.
The European Court of Human Rights unanimously held on Tuesday that Hungarian judges erred, saying Uj’s article was intended to “raise awareness about the disadvantages of State ownership rather than to denigrate the quality of the wine company’s products.”
Political commentary is one thing, wine criticism another, it seems.
But imagine if he’d been writing about beer in . . . well, pick the beer-loving country of your choice.