Joseph Weiler, an NYU law professor who is editor of the European Journal of International Law, has been charged with criminal libel in France by Karin Calvo-Goller, who was displeased with a critical review of her book published in Professor Weiler's journal. Professor Weiler gives a patient account of the matter in the editorial linked here, including a link to the review, which is critical but mild (contrast this!) The author has obviously done more damage to her own reputation by making this criminal complaint than would have been possible by any book review, let alone the one in question. It bears noting that "criminal libel" in France does not mean that a prosecutor has reviewed the charges and found that they have enough merit to warrant action; it suffices for the offended party, in this case Dr. Calvo-Goller, to file a criminal complaint.
Britain is, of course, notorious for its outrageous libel laws that make it easy to suppress and punish speech that would clearly be protected under U.S. law (or any morally defensible system of free speech). One consequence is that many U.S. jurisdictions (including major jurisdictions like New York, California, Illinois, and Florida) have passed laws that essentially make defamation judgments in foreign jurisdictions that would have been impossible in the U.S. unenforceable in a court here. (Pending federal legislation would also create a cause of action against "libel tourists" in U.S. courts.) What I'm unsure of is how these laws would affect a criminal libel judgment emerging from France (their main object was plainly libel judgments in the British courts). Professor Weiler will go to trial in France, and hopefully, the French courts will dismiss the matter quickly. But this bears watching.
Details about French 'criminal libel' law would be welcome in the comments.
(Thanks to Joel Trachtman for calling this case to my attention.)