A French court violated a man’s freedom of expression when it convicted him of insulting Nicolas Sarkozy by turning the then-president’s own words against him, the European Court of Human Rights says.
During a 2008 visit by Mr Sarkozy to western France, Herve Eon waved a placard that read – in its mildest translation – “Get lost, poor jerk.”
That exact expression was used by the president himself months earlier while he was glad-handing a crowd.
Mr Eon was convicted of insulting the president and received a suspended penalty of 30 euro (£26) in fines.
But the European court said today the conviction violated his right to free expression and could have a chilling effect on satirical commentary.
The decision can be appealed against one last time to the court’s Grand Chamber.