Swedish media divided over Liberal spying convictions

A schoolboy prank that got out of hand, or the low point of Swedish political debate? Sweden's newspapers are divided over the convictions of three people following the attempt by Liberal Party officials to access the Social Democrats' computer network before September's election.

The Liberals’ actions are and will remain the low-water mark for Swedish politics, reckons Helsingborgs Dagblad. The paper expressed surprise that it was the Liberal Party – with its tradition of fighting for the individual’s right not to be harassed – that was caught with “its fingers, no, its whole head, in the cookie jar”.

But the Moderate-leaning Norrbottens-Kuriren argued instead that the whole affair was blown out of proportion and put it down to a schoolboy prank and youthful lack of judgement. “Hardly a worse crime than speeding,” said the paper.

The independent liberal daily, Dagens Nyheter, noted that the whole matter began with “two young, impatient men who, mostly for a game, competed to outsmart each other”.

Nevertheless, said DN, the situation could arise again and next time there would hopefully more restraint from more senior party officials.

The majority of Sweden’s leader writers were unanimous in their view that some moral responsibility must be taken, even in the cases of those found not guilty by the court.

“That goes, for example, for [party secretary] Johan Jakobsson neglecting to inform the Social Democrats that their password was out on the loose,” wrote Göteborgs-Posten.

And the voters view is also clear, according to tabloid Aftonbladet, which wrote that Jakobsson leaves behind him “a party which is scandalised, and whose ratings are dreadful”.

Centre Party-supporting Skånska Dagbladet concluded that Sweden’s political parties share a joint interest in “keeping clear of dirty tricks in elections”.

After everything that has happened, the party secretaries ought to sit down with each other and try to agree on a code of honour, wrote the paper.

In Friday’s verdict, Per Jodenius, a former press secretary in the Liberal youth wing, LUF, was convicted of data trespass and incitement to data trespass. He was fined 120 days wages, totalling 3,600 kronor. Former Expressen journalist Niklas Svensson was convicted of data trespass and fined 40 days’ wages, totalling 8,000 kronor. Niklas Sörman, an official in Social Democrat youth movement SSU, was dined 60 days’ wages, totalling 9,000 kronor.