Policemen cleared of assaulting whistleblower

Two police officers have been cleared of assault in a case that attracted widespread attention after a blogger used techniques worthy of a Stieg Larsson plot to restore photographs and video footage that he claimed the officers had forced him to delete.

Stockholm District Court dismissed the charges against the officers on Friday, clearing them of any wrongdoing after they ordered the blogger, Jesper Nilsson, to delete photos taken at the Hornstull metro station after he spotted the men roughing up two youths travelling without a valid ticket.

According to the indictment, the officers had threatened to report him on harassment and drugs charges if he did not remove the pictures from his mobile phone. He agreed to erase the images.

Nilsson’s version of events seemed “more logical and credible” than that of the policemen, said the court, but added there was no proof of coercion since the recording had stopped at that point.

The officers also pressed Nilsson up against a wall and snatched his mobile phone from him.

In its ruling, the court argued that the violence used was of a very minor nature and had not caused injury to Nilsson. What’s more, the officers immediately returned his phone.

Nilsson said he was not surprised by the outcome, but added that his video footage meant there would rarely be a clearer case for convicting officers of the law.

“This kind of verdict leads to increased (public) resignation,” he told news agency TT.

He said the only way to secure a conviction would be to record an entire incident from start to finish.

“Ever second of what happens has to be filmed.”

Writing on his blog after the incident, Nilsson explained how he went home and quickly began “setting up a little crime laboratory” in an attempt to restore the images.

After hooking up his smartphone to his computer, he was soon able to retrieve a raw copy of the phone’s hard disk.

“After several hours of hard work, a few cups of coffee and some swearing, I had restored my telephone’s image bank,” he wrote.

Recovering the deleted video footage proved more difficult, but help was at hand. He sent the corrupted file to “some clever girls and guys” in Spain and soon received an email confirming that they had succeeded in reconstructing the three-minute movie.

The event became notorious after Nilsson uploaded the film to social media website YouTube.

A prosecutor charged the two policemen with harassment, arbitrary conduct and unlawful restraint or misconduct, as Nilsson tried to expose what he believed to be the use of undue force by the officers.

Following the incident, the policemen reported Nilsson for aggravated defamation, harassment and assaulting a police officer, but the allegations did not lead to any criminal charges against the blogger.

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