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Reinfeldt rejects congressmen's plea to scold Aftonbladet

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17:57 CEST+02:00
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has rebuffed demands by two members of the US Congress that he publicly condemn the Aftonbladet newspaper over a story alleging Israeli soldiers harvested the organs of dead Palestinians.

“The fact that the political authorities may not pass judgment on freedom of the press and freedom of expression, is a linchpin of our country,” Reinfeldt wrote in a September 7th letter to Robert Wexler and Elton Gallegy, both members of the US Congress's subcommittee on Europe.

The two page letter took pains to empathize with the congressmen's concerns about how the article, which was published in August in the Aftonbladet newspaper, could be used to fuel anti-Semitic views.

“We of course share the anger over the fact that anti-Semitic tendencies have emerged in the public debate,” writes Reinfeldt.

“The Swedish Government works systematically to counter all such tendencies.”

The letter comes after congressmen Wexler and Gallegy wrote to Reinfeldt requesting that he “unequivocally repudiate and reject the heinous allegations expressed in this article”.

“As you know, too often, Jewish communities have suffered at the hands of extremists, who have justified acts of violence onthe basis of similar charges as those found in Aftonbladet,” wrote the congressmen.

Reinfeldt defended his non-action by referring to Sweden's constitution and its free-speech traditions, admitting that they may be hard for others to appreciate.

“I can understand that citizens of other countries are unaware of the Swedish regulations on an issue that, to them, seems clear cut,” Reinfeldt said in his response.

“I am certain that, as members of the United States Congress, you can understand the careful considerations required of my colleagues in the Government and myself so as to respect the separation of powers and responsibilities as laid down in the constitution.”

Late last week, Aftonbladet was cleared of any racism charges by Sweden's Chancellor of Justice, Göran Lambertz, the country's top legal official.

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