Reporters Without Borders defends TV journalist hounded after Nagorno-Karabakh report

"Reporters Without Borders | Reporters Sans Frontières" by leoglenn_g is licensed under CC BY 2.0

By | Rachel Brooks

October 27, 2020

Pictured above, image license: “Reporters Without Borders | Reporters Sans Frontières” by leoglenn_g is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Reporters Without Borders has, for a long time, been an organization that advocates the rights of reporters in low media access nations. 

Reporters Without Borders has stepped in to defend the French TV journalist who was hounded after reporting the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. 

Reporters Without Borders condemns the online attacks that a French TV reporter received from members of the Armenian community in France after just doing their job by covering the current fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region from the Azerbaijani side of the front line,” wrote the organization. 

Reporters Without Borders then went on to confirm the circumstances that condemned the journalist. Liseron Boudoul, a staff reporter for the French TV channel TFI, has received a barrage of hate messages on both Facebook and Twitter after reporting the Azerbaijani side of the frontline. Boudoul has a distinguished career reporting conflict, including the bombing of Idlib, Syria. 

One of the Armenian community referred to her as “a genocidal whore” as was reported by the French news outlet The Reflets outlet called Boudoul, “a victim of the cabal on social networks” as it described the barrage of torment she received.

Citing both Reporters Without Borders and Reflets, the journalist’s harassment was so extreme that TFI chose to pull the broadcast from its site. The programme in question was the 8pm news cast of October 22. 

Reporters Without Borders states that Boudoul was likewise tormented via Whatsapp, as somehow her personal contact information was compromised. 

In addition to Boudoul, Reporters Without Borders also states that two reporters from a French daily received torment for covering the story of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict from the Azerbaijani side of the struggle. The other two individuals were likewise subjected to online threats from the Armenian community. 

Reflets interviewed Boudoul regarding her harassment case. 

“I have been covering conflicts for ten years, I know very well that it is always sensitive, but this is a first,” said Boudoul. 

Boudoul also stated that she was accused of being “a whore of genocidaires” and “an agent of Turkey.” 

Boudoul noted, with amusement, that due to her reportage regarding the Syrian conflict, she has been twice banned from Turkey. This led to her amusement as she recalled the commentary from the Armenian community. 

Boudoul also stated that her colleague, Michel Scott, had previously been sent to the Armenian side to cover the conflict from their side. 

Boudoul and the journalists of TFI, citing Reflets, were also subjected to death threats, as one Twitter user stated that a “few beheadings of the TFI staff” might cause them to “think better and more obvious.’ 

Attacks against journalists who dare to cover the Azerbaijani side of the conflict have become more prominent as the conflict continues. The attacks against Boudoul were directly condemned by Reporters Without Borders’s Head of the European and Balkans Desk Pavol Szalai. 

“We firmly condemn the harassment to which Liseron Boudoul and TF1 have been subjected,” said Szalai, as he was quoted by RSF. 

“It is unacceptable for a journalist and a media outlet to be hounded in this way for covering a conflict, on the grounds that they placed themselves on a certain side of the front line.”

Szalai also called on Franck Papazian of the Coordinating Council of Armenian Organizations in France to condemn the aggression against the journalists. Franck Papazian made comments on Facebook, in which he showed the “ignoble” behavior of Boudoul and TFI. His message via Facebook was a screencap of his Twitter comment. 

His tweet, translated into English, read:  

“A scandalous report by Liseron Boudoul of TFI on the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.  Azerbaijan passes for the victim and Armenia as the aggressor.  An inversion of reality and an apparent disinformation @GuillaumePorteau. I did not think TFI capable of that.” 

It was a commenter on this post who suggested beheadings were the answer. 

Likewise, the day after the report aired, Armenian protesters flocked the TF1 building to intimidate the staff.

This statement makes it quite unlikely that Papazian will actually condemn what was done to Boudoul, TFI, and any other journalists who were subjected to harassment.