The disputed comments were aired in an SVT documentary broadcast on September 14th which examined the public debate and internal political divisions surrounding Sweden’s proposed wire-tapping bill.
The bill, set to be debated once again in the Riksdag in the coming weeks, gives expanded powers to Sweden’s National Defence Radio Establishment (Försvarets Radioanstalt – FRA) to monitor cable-bound telecommunications which cross the country’s borders.
In the documentary, which was broadcast on the Rapport news programme, Carl Bildt made comments about Sweden’s intelligence cooperation which were misconstrued by SVT.
“Last week we had big news when foreign minister Carl Bildt said in a news documentary that Swedish intelligence services can cooperate with dictators. The problem is that on Monday we said that the foreign minister said that FRA cooperates with dictators,” said Morgan Olofsson, editor-in-chief for Rapport, in a statement.
“Precision with words is always of the utmost importance. Not the least when we investigate political powers. We’ll take away that and other lessons for the future. And to the viewers who felt they were misled, I apologize.”
The apology came several days following the documentary’s broadcast, and following statements by Bildt on the radio and on his blog that SVT had made a mistake in its reporting.
“Clearly there is a cherished infallibility when it comes to Rapport which may not be questioned,” wrote Bildt on his blog.
Following the apology, Bildt emphasized again on his blog that “the truth wins”, adding that the incident demonstrated the importance of holding the media to account.
“What happened shows the importance of reacting when the media steps over the line – just like it shows that despite a tendency toward the myth of infallibility, there is also a constructive internal discussion within the media,” he wrote.
“Perhaps Sweden is just a little, little bit better off because of this little dispute.”