Acquittal for SRF journalists

Filming with a hidden camera now has no criminal consequences after all: After years of legal wrangling, the Zurich High Court has definitively acquitted four journalists from the Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF) program "Kassensturz".


The controversial "Kassensturz" program was broadcast 13 years ago, but still keeps judges and lawyers busy to this day. The TV report dealt with the business practices of insurance brokers, with the journalists resorting to the hidden camera and recording a very bad consultation. To protect the person filmed, they pixelated his face and distorted his voice. However, this was not enough for the insurance man, which is why he pressed charges against the journalists. He was not yet successful in the Dielsdorf ZH district court. It acquitted the SRF employees, whereupon he appealed the judgment. The High Court then ruled in his favor and sentenced the "Kassensturz" journalists to conditional fines, which they in turn did not accept and appealed to the Federal Supreme Court. The Federal Supreme Court confirmed the convictions.

Public interest is more important

The journalists finally appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, which ultimately sided with them again. In February 2015, the ECtHR held that the public interest in the actions of insurance brokers outweighed the protection of privacy. Convictions such as those handed down by the Zurich High Court and the Federal Supreme Court could also lead to the media being reluctant to express criticism. The case was therefore sent back to Switzerland - where it has now landed back at the Zurich High Court via a second round at the Federal Supreme Court. This court has now inevitably followed the ECHR and definitively acquitted the journalists. With the ruling from Strasbourg and the overturning of the Swiss convictions, the hidden camera is once again a legitimate means of investigative research.

SRF remains cautious

Nevertheless, SRF will only use the hidden camera with restraint in future. "It is the last resort of research, when a matter of public interest can only be documented with hidden footage," said editor-in-chief Tristan Brenn at the request of the SDA news agency. (SDA)

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