Threats against journalists on the rise

Journalists in Sweden are increasingly subjected to threats and violence. Almost two in three editorial offices have been threatened, according to a new report by Reporters Without Borders.

Swedish journalists are finding it increasingly difficult to work in safety.

“This is a very serious development that we have to draw attention to,” said Jesper Bengtsson, chairman of Reporters Without Borders in Sweden.

This is the first time that Sweden has been named in the report which details the incidence of threats against journalists across the European Union.

The report addresses for example the threats directed against local newspaper Nerikes Allehanda following the publication of Swedish artist Lars Vilks portraits of the Muslim prophet Muhammad as a dog.

The newspaper was obliged to increase security around its editorial staff and journalists were afforded bodyguards.

The report also details an incident in the Gothenburg suburb of Bergsjön. When journalists arrived at the scene of a shooting they were threatened, assaulted and forced to surrender their films and photos.

The Swedish experience is typical of the development across the EU. The Muhammad cartoon controversy led to a series of threats directed against journalists in Denmark, the Mafia is main threat in Italy and in Northern Ireland journalists are still a vulnerable group despite the peace process.