The judicial crusade of the son of Antonio Luis Baena Tocón, a legal lieutenant who participated in the trial of the communist poet Miguel Hernández, against anyone who dares to report on his father’s role in the post-war Francoist repression has reached the National High Court. JFBG, a retired civil servant, has achieved that the name of his father, a perfect stranger to the non-specialized public, acquires a certain posthumous fame by suing Juan Antonio Ríos Carratalá, professor at the University of Alicante and author of an extensive work on the Francoism. So far, he has not managed to get away with it, although the legal battle continues.
The posthumous victory of the poet Miguel Hernández against censorship and oblivion
The head of the Contentious Administrative Court number 3 of Alicante dismissed the lawsuit against the University of Alicante, in a very forceful sentence that supports the academic research, as reported by elDiario.es. In parallel, Baena Tocón’s son filed a claim with the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) against Google Spain SL in which he requested the right to delete 18 URLs with information about his father. The lawsuit against the UA caused numerous media, academic institutions and social networks to inflate the snowball (the so-called ‘Streisand effect’) with the name of the late Antonio Luis Baena Tocón as the involuntary protagonist.
The AEPD, in its resolution, considers that the claim of the son of the legal lieutenant “lacks foundation.” Data protection regulations do not cover a deceased person, as experts in the field explained at the time. “The disputed URLs refer to information that presents unquestionable relevance and public and historical interest,” says the agency. Thus, it is about “historical facts of extraordinary relevance” about the death sentence of the poet Miguel Hernández, “who occupies a prominent place in the history of 20th century Spanish literature”, recalls the AEPD.
In addition, the resolution adds that the official’s data “are exact” and its publication is protected by the right to freedom of information and scientific production. Baena Tocón’s son’s request also refers to three URLs that refer to institutional pages. “The information that the authorities publish in the Official State Gazette is of public relevance, in accordance with the legally established procedure, so that they are accessible without restrictions also through search engines”, reads the resolution.
The right to be forgotten, recalls the public body that ensures data protection, “finds its limit in the freedom of information.” The resolution also alludes to the role of digital newspaper libraries: “They make a substantial contribution to the preservation of news and information that constitute an important source for education and historical research.”
More importantly, freedom of expression prevails greatly when an investigation concerns people who exercise public functions “in matters of relevance” due to their professional activity, as is the case of the legal lieutenant Antonio Luis Baena Tocón. Removing the 18 URLs from the network, as JFBG intended, “would break the legal order” and “would harm the public interest,” says the AEPD.
The man filed an appeal against the initial resolution of the agency, which responded by clarifying that in its area of competence “there is no evaluation or investigation of the news or publications.” Once this route was exhausted, Baena Tocón’s son appealed the resolution before the Administrative Litigation Chamber of the National Court, as legal sources have confirmed to this newspaper.
In the background of the matter, in addition to the right to be forgotten, the endorsement of academic research on Franco’s repression flies over. The battle of the son of Baena Tocón against the professor Ríos Carratalá and the University of Alicante caused a certain fear in university circles. However, the forceful sentence of the head of the Administrative Litigation Court number 3 of Alicante has cleared any shadow of doubt, also taking into account the abundant Spanish and European jurisprudence on the matter.
The son of the legal lieutenant maintains a web page in which he relativizes the role of his father in the process against the poet Miguel Hernández and attacks the professor Juan Antonio Ríos Carratalá, first-line historians such as Ángel Viñas and journalists who reported on the attempted censorship.
The man has not answered the email of this newspaper to obtain his version. A Google spokeswoman, for her part, has declined to comment on the appeal to the National High Court. Baena Tocón’s son has also filed a lawsuit before the Court of First Instance number 5 of Cádiz against the professor of the University of Alicante, other academic institutions, historians and the media (in total, there are 107 co-defendants). He requests 11.5 million for the alleged interference with the honor of his deceased father.