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Right-wing lawmaker shares reporter's contact to anti-vaxxer group
Press freedom

Right-wing lawmaker shares reporter's contact to anti-vaxxer group

by Heledd PRITCHARD 2 min. 06.12.2021 From our online archive
Journalist had joined around 300 vaccine opponents on the messaging platform Telegram as part of research into an article on anti-vaxxers
Parliament member Roy Reding of the ADR
Parliament member Roy Reding of the ADR
Photo credit: Pierre Matgé

Luxembourg’s association of journalists criticised right-wing parliament member Roy Reding after he shared a reporter's telephone number within an online anti-vaxxers group, whose members barraged the reporter with hate messages.

The journalist at the German-language news website Tageblatt joined a group of around 300 vaccine opponents on the messaging platform Telegram while researching an article on opponents to Covid-19 vaccine rules.

When he found the name Roy Reding, the journalist messaged to ask whether he was actually the parliamentary deputy for the Alternative Democratic Party (ADR). Reding confirmed he was a member of the NëtgepicktLU2.0 (NotjabbedLU2.0) group and not someone falsely posting under his name. Reding then published the message the journalist sent him, including his work and personal mobile numbers.

The journalist has since received messages from people in the group, branding him a ‘Gestapo spy’ and a government ‘collaborator’, the Luxembourg Association of Professional Journalists said in a statement. He is also being bombarded with conspiracy theories and intimidating messages, the ALJP said.

Reding’s "behaviour once again shows what he thinks of the free press,” the ALJP statement said. “When independent reporting is not allowed, other human rights are also violated.”

Reding's actions were “scurrilous and very dangerous,” Tageblatt Editor-in-Chief Dhiraj Sabharwal said. 

The incident comes after around 2,000 people took to the streets of Luxembourg on Saturday in protest against the government’s tightening measures on the unvaccinated. Some ripped down metal barriers to barge their way into the Christmas market on Place de la Constitution, where the Gëlle Fra stands.

The unvaccinated will have to present a daily negative Covid test to be able to enter the workplace as of 15 January, ministers and unions said last week. Employees without a CovidCheck and who refuse to take a daily test will have to either take a day off or won’t be paid.

Under new proposals put forward by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and Health Minister Paulette Lenert last week, visitors to a number of recreational and leisure activities will have to prove they have been vaccinated or recovered from the disease. Showing a negative test result will no longer be accepted.

No injuries were reported on Saturday and while there was little damage, there were reports of a car that had been scratched and paint thrown at a house.

People were “personally molested and they were frightened”, Internal Security Minister, Henri Kox, said at a press conference on Sunday. Bettel said on Twitter: "I cannot and will not accept what happened in the city yesterday [Saturday]."

Last Tuesday, the number of Covid-19 infections reached the highest daily total this year with 585 new cases – a figure which has not been seen since 595 daily infections were recorded in December last year.

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