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Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said on Monday she would veto amendments to the Civil Code on insult of public figures. In her words, the law adopted by the Seimas facilitates persecution for criticizing the administration.
Dalia Grybauskaitė
Dalia Grybauskaitė
© DELFI (R. Achmedovo nuotr.)

"The amendments facilitate persecution of not only journalists but also every person of Lithuania for a critical opinion about a public figure, the government and politicians," the president told journalists in Kaunas.

"With the changes, we do not only facilitate censorship but also persecution of our citizens, therefore, I will definitely have to send them back," said Grybauskaitė.

In her words, the amendments that later drew media criticism emerged "suddenly and unexpectedly", and parliamentarians did not have full information about the consequences of the law.

On Monday morning, Grybauskaitė discussed the changes with lawyers and representatives of the media.

The parliament adopted the changes, saying that, with insults excluded from the Penal Code, it has to be punishable by civil liability. Media figures criticized the move the exclude the provision, which exempts a person from civil liability for spreading false information about a public figure and his or her state or public activities if that person proves that he or she acted in good faith with the aim of informing the general public about that public figure and his or her activities.

Some politicians say that dismay over free speech was ungrounded. Conservative MP Stasys Šedbaras says that the provision had been included at the government's initiative in light of the Supreme Court's practice, therefore, would be applied in any case, with the margin between criticism and insult always determined by court.

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