#SMSGate #PfizerGate – From Liège with Law and transcript of the press conference

Xavier Azalbert, France-Soir
Publié le 20 mai 2024 - 12:12
From liege with law
France-Soir, AFP
#SMSGate #PfizerGate – From Liège with Love and transcript of the press conference
France-Soir, AFP

On saturday, May 18, 2024, a press conference by lobbyist Frédéric Baldan and Diane Protat was held. They filed a complaint against Ursula von der Leyen, Albert Bourla, Pfizer, BioNtech. Initially joined by two Belgian and French political parties, as well as Poland and Hungary, two European states, 467 aircrew were joined at the last moment. A significant massification of plaintiffs that surprised the court and the investigating judge Frenay. This hearing was held following a surprising request of inadmissibility (case dismissal) issued by the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO).

Surprising, because when lawyer Diane Protat asked the EPPO for their investigation file, an EPPO officer, that did not want to share his identity, explained that " there was no file"! The investigation file brings together all the acts and duties that the EPPO should have performed during the procedure and which must imperatively be made available to all the parties – both the Belgian investigating judge Frédéric Frenay within the framework of the cooperation agreement between the EPPO and the Member States, but also to the parties so that they can defend themselves. A case without a file made available to the parties, this is already a rather bad start in terms of respect for the rights of the parties and the defense. How could the EPPO file requisitions for inadmissibility without a file? A question to which no one has an answer and the EPPO is rather silent on the subject, hiding behind the secrecy of the investigation "so as not to undermine it" France-Soir was told, a way of kicking the can down the road so as not to answer the questions that France-Soir asked, but also to flout the rights of the victims. The EPPO demonstrates by this behavior that it is not a real prosecutor's office, but rather an agency of cooperation and coordination, which takes certain liberties with basic rules of law. So what does the EPPO files countain? Documents and legal acts that would be embarrassing for the accused? Reports received by the EPPO that would be slanderous against the plaintiffs and that would have allowed the deputy prosecutor Jennifer Vanderputten to say "that victims are hot air"?

For his part, the investigating judge Frenay, to whom the plaintiffs have constituted, wanted to have a clarification from the court in order to know how he could continue his investigation deemed "serious" by a person close to the case. Unlike the EPPO, the investigating judge has a file, of nearly 1800 pages, which of course includes the complaints of Poland and Hungary.

First kiss from Liège: No, the EPPO has not taken over the investigation as Politico wrote on April 1st.

A complication around the role of the EPPO: the more than questionable role Politico and other media.  Indeed, Politico declared in an unsubstantiated way on April 1 that the EPPO had taken over the case and that Poland was trying to get out of the case.  In an article dated April 3, 2024, France-Soir presented the dark sides of the propagandist communication of Elisa Braun and Carlo Martuscelli of Politico.  Politico was therefore wrong all along the line since Poland was represented at the hearing. Isn't the job of journalism to verify information? This becomes all the more important when the information comes from the EPPO, which has demonstrated an obscure and partisan federalist stance, since Friday's hearing highlighted that the EPPO had taken over the investigation. Diane Protat and Frédéric Baldan explained in detail in the press conference of May 18, 2024 (a full transcript of which is published below). It is therefore surprising that the media do not verify the information and thus mislead their readers: it was nevertheless easy enough to check the competence of the EPPO and above all to know that in criminal proceedings, once a complaint has been filed, such as that of Poland, it is no longer available to the plaintiff, but in the sole hand of the Court.  It was therefore peremptory for these media to communicate in this hasty manner. However, some did not fall for the influence of the EPPO further to "the instructions received" by Jennifer Vanderputten, the Belgian deputy prosecutor at the EPPO.  Let’s remind also that when created, Politico presented itself as a "critical friend" of the European institutions and not as an independent press organ respectful of the Munich Charter. This would explain the federalist bias of their communication.


Second kiss from Liège: "Poland is well present in the case with a firm mandate" confirms one of its lawyers

Jean-Louis Gilissen and Morvan Leberre, Poland's lawyers, confirmed the information reported by France-Soir in various articles: "Things did not happen as they should have been. Does this mean a civil problem that could make it possible to challenge the constraint as it was concluded? Or if it's a defect of consent, we're on the verge of criminal law and we could perhaps be in criminal law? Yes, there is a defect of consent. But a defect of consent, if there is fraud, because here we do have actions that could be linked to incompetence with a conflict of interest. That's a degradation. So all this democratic debate could not take place in the European Parliament. It took place in front of judicial convictions. 
France-Soir then asked him: "You said that Poland is maintaining. How come there are a lot of media outlets saying that Poland wants to leave? To which Jean-Louis Gilissen replied: "Because I believe that there is a whole set of interests that are manifested in the case and that people are talking about it. So you have to ask those who write that Poland was leaving! And he confirmed: "I can tell you that we have a mandate and a firm mandate to be present and to try to see clearly. That's the idea. We don't prosecute anyone, we try to see clearly. »


Third kiss of Liège: Judge Frédéric Frenay can continue his investigation

Concerned about respect of the rule book of the procedure, the investigating judge can therefore continue his investigation and carry out the additional duties requested by Hungary. Other plaintiffs consider that they are asking for additional duties in the face of the more than obscure position of the EPPO which was running in place of the Belgian public prosecutor's office. Is it really? 

The King's deputy prosecutor Frédéric Demonceau was absent from Friday's hearing. Another important question that arose is that “the EPPO has not demonstrated that it has the skills it claims in this case”. An attempt to force its way through, that has not escaped the plaintiffs’ attention, but also seasoned observers or those who have taken the time to read the EPPO regulations in detail.  This European construction is more like an agency for cooperation and coordination between states in the fight against corruption. The EPPO has not been ratified by five (Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Ireland and Portugal) of the twenty-seven Member States and has therefore not been unanimously accepted, and its authority is now contested by four countries.   


Fourth Kiss of Liège: for the attention of the media

Many journalists were present at the hearing on May 17, 2024 as well as at the press conference. However, many media continue to provide information in a partial or erroneous way, which clearly shows the partisanship of some. This is problematic, because erroneous information is then amplified on social networks.  Despite attempts by Alexander Fanta of Follow The Money (one of whose journalists was present at Friday's hearing, but not at the press conference on Saturday) to explain that the New York Times complaint had not prospered because of the intervention of the BonSens.org association, it was Frédéric Baldan's complaint that was heard. Alexander Fanta criticized bonsens.org without explaining how all the other claimants who have brought an action at the CJEU are still in the situation of not having a judgment! How can Fanta claim that it would be the fault of a third party is unclear, especially when he is in the same situation as everyone else? Isn't it time for journalists to put their egos aside and start reporting rather than blaming third parties for their own mistakes? 

France-Soir and the association BonSens.org have reported on vaccines as early as 2020, in particular on the criticism of Pfizer which had prepared everything, as well as the analysis on the contracts, evaluated abnormally to the advantage of manufacturers by the doctor of law Olivier Frot.

More concerning is the justification flourishing in the media that the Commission has committed 700 million euros, as explanation for the competence of the EPPO! One wonders how the EC could have committed the EU budget when it has no competence in the field of health!  Moreover, it is the Member States that have paid. Neither the EC, nor the journalists who talk about it, show how this affects the European Union budget! So many questions that, as usual, remain unclear in an attempt to legitimize the EPPO rather than provide a real journalistic critique.


Fifth kiss from Liège to the lawyers of the defendants

At the end of the hearing, the faces of the defendants' lawyers were shut. On exit of the court room, Adrien Masset, Ursula von der Leyen's lawyer, and Tom Bowens, Albert Bourla's lawyer did not comment. With a fleeting look, they skimmed the walls as they walked out of the courtroom, like a boxer who had taken a knockout in a ring. Tenors of the bar perhaps, but this time they were speechless. The Brussels lawyers, who were probably expecting a pleasure walk in the province of Liège care of the EPPO's request for inadmissibility, found themselves facing a wall.  The wall of repeated requests for transparency in the context of this case which should be in order. Moreover, in a communication, Ursula von der Leyen's counsel, Masset, explains that "various plaintiffs with fanciful motivations, based in particular on anti-vax positions... A authoritative argument used perhaps too easily to hide the real root of the problem.


More and more questions are raised through this case regarding the role of Ursula von der Leyen and Albert Bourla in the negotiation of the contract of the century (more than 35 billion euros). While Poland and Hungary are confirmed plaintiffs, members of other states, such as Portugal, Croatia, Slovakia and Romania, are already considering joining.  As for the civil parties, several thousand people have already expressed their intention to join the proceedings in various European countries in a move that one person describes as "an unparalleled momentum, and if the New York Times has not succeeded in obtaining the contracts and the text messages, it is surely because they have not tried well enough. Look, they still don't have a court date. »

In France, a question arises both for the Ministry of Health and for parliamentarians: "why doesn't France join this procedure?" And above all, "what role does the Rassemblement National or LFI (leftwing party) and the other political parties that are totally absent play? Is transparency not important to these parties? With the European elections fast approaching, isn’ it in the interest of the citizens that the candidates for the election look into this subject?

Overseas, Pfizer's competitors obviously have not had the same treatment or text messages with Mrs von der Leyen.  Will Moderna, which is also in conflict with Pfizer, join the case to seek what is in the text messages between Albert Bourla and Ursula von der Leyen? Will the SEC, the watchdog of the American markets, join the case in order to assess whether Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, has violated the code of conduct and the strict rules for a listed company?

Many articles appeared in the media, however no French mainstream media reported the hearing or the press conference.  Marianne, a French magazine, despite being made aware by Frederic Baldan of the complaint in the spring of 2023 through a contact with Editor in Chief Natascha Polony and Gerald Andrieu, took a year to write about the case against Ursula von der Leyen. Without having contacted Frédéric Baldan, Marianne does not hesitate to attribute him with incorrect quotes. A real earthquake in the information. On the one hand, the media carrying out a real work of information and journalism by reporting the facts and investigating in order to decipher the complex situation. And on the other hand, those who have a tendency to leave aside the duties of the Munich Charter, to verify information and not to confuse propaganda with journalism. However, they are still supplanted by the EPPO magistrate who attempt to appropriate competences without establishing the legal basis – this is surprisingly not questioned or challenged in the mainstream media, they probably did not take the time to work the situation in the required depth. 

The justification of the competence of the EPPO through a commitment of 700 million euros from the EC, is more akin to a legal coup d'état with the EPPO that places itself at the service of European officials rather than that of the citizens.  These officials may feel the wind of justice in front of the forthcoming wave of complainants.  An organization, with criminal contours, which tries to escape at all costs the responsibilities that fall directly and indirectly to it.  It would therefore not be surprising if searches, rogatory commissions and other complementary duties were aimed at Ursula von der Leyen, Albert Bourla, Laura Kövesi, the European Commissioners, Jennifer Vanderputten and the deputy prosecutor of the King Demonceau, the director of communications Tine Hollevoet, or other people such as journalists such as Elsa Braun (Politico) or Alexander Fanta (Follow The Money) - keeping in mind that the presumption of innoncence prevails at all times, their testimonies or afidavits may be important in this case in order to accurately understand its contours.

Pear and apple syrup are the Liege specialty, Diane Protat and Frédéric Baldan as well as the other plaintiffs and victims were keen to remind Ursula von der Leyen and Albert Bourla as well as their advice that they are neither “good apples" nor "good pears", the French expression for neither fool nor a mug.

With love from Liège to all.


Press conference in french



Full transcript of the press conference for those who would prefer to read

Transcription carried out with the assistance of AI and reviewed, however, it may be subject to errors.

 PDF of the transcript.


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