Reporters Without Borders

Royal family seeks court injunction against AP over holiday photos

Published on Friday 7 August 2009.
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Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns the court injunction which Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife, Princess Maxima, have sought against the US news agency, the Associated Press, to force it to stop distributing recent photos of them and their five-year-old daughter, Princess Catharina-Amalia, at an Argentine ski resort.

“We fully support the Associated Press’s freedom to cover and photograph any subject it considers newsworthy,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Members of the Dutch royal family are public figures of the kind that are often the subject of photo stories in international magazines. Their privacy must obviously be respected but Prince Willem-Alexander and his family were in a public ski resort abroad and the photos did absolutely no harm to their honour or reputation. There are no grounds for banning them.

“We are also very concerned about the demands been made in addition to a ban on the offending photos. The royal family wants the Associated Press to undertake to henceforth only photograph them at official functions. If the Dutch courts comply with this request, it will limit the press to being promotional agencies that just publish photos selected for them. This would be censorship pure and simple, and would give other heads of states the opportunity to demand similar treatment.

“Most of the Dutch news media have freely chosen not to publish photos of the royal family when they are not performing official functions but the same does not necessarily apply to international media, which are free to tackle this subject from other angles and which could be interested in photos of the royal family that do not come from its protocol services.”

The AP is the only media not to have complied with the request to withdraw the photos from circulation. A royal family spokesman said the injunction request would be withdrawn if the news agency complied before 14 August, when a court is due to examine it.

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