Right wing extremists threaten press watchdog
Published: 24 Sep 2012 17:26 GMT+02:00
Updated: 24 Sep 2012 17:26 GMT+02:00
Sweden’s Press Ombudsman (Allmänhetens Pressombudsman – PO) Ola Sigvardsson has been subjected to threats after publishing a text where he questioned the publication of the images of the subway robber in Swedish media.
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On Saturday, Sigvardsson filed a report with the police after someone had drawn a subway track on the pavement outside his central Stockholm apartment, on which a picture of the robber had been placed and animal blood poured over.
“They say that it is a threat against me,” said Sigvardsson to the Medievärlden newspaper.
Sigvardsson told the paper that he is convinced that it is a column he wrote for the paper that triggered the incident.
In the column, which was published prior to the arrest of the suspect, Sigvardsson wrote that he wished for the robber to be caught as soon as possible:
“But the question to Sweden’s publishers is whether what has happened is such that the media can ignore the traditional caution when it comes to identifying suspects. Should the media play a part in the hunt for the suspect?”
According to Sigvardsson, daily Dagens Nyheter (DN) as well as newspapers Aftonbladet and Expressen would answer in the affirmative, whereas Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) chose not to publish the picture.
Sigvardsson didn’t rule out that the media could play a role in informing the public about a potential danger but concluded that he, for one, did not long for “online hunts for suspected criminals”.
Despite many commenters being outraged with Sigvardsson’s column, he told the paper that he has no regrets:
“I don’t think I went out on a limb but was simply reasoning back and forth. I even argued that there are times when it is ethical for the press to inform the public as to the identity of a suspected criminal,” said Sigvardsson to Medievärlden.
A right wing extremist group later claimed responsibility for Saturday’s stunt outside Sigvardsson’s dwelling on their Facebook page.
The editor-in-chief of Medievärlden, Axel Andén has condemned the deed:
“It is completely unacceptable that a writer has been threatened in his home for writing a column. That is a threat against the freedom of speech and is very unpleasant for Ola Sigvardsson and his relatives,” Andén told the paper.