Neo-nazi activists and criminal gangs continued to harass investigative journalists in 2003, though not as much as the previous year.

Sweden very liberal laws include the right of journalists to information, which is written into the national constitution, and the protection of journalistic sources, which is recognised as an absolute right. The authorities are not allowed to formally investigate the origin of published material and journalists are legally obliged to respect a source's wish for anonymity. But after the controversial coverage of the enquiry into the 10 September 2003 murder of foreign minister Anna Lindh, calls were made to curb the media's right to be informed.

The Swedish Association of Lawyers called for this right to be limited concerning material from police sources, so as to prevent leaks. Twelve MPs from three parties also tabled bills restricting the information civil servants could give the media, including proposals to bar information about ongoing criminal cases, allowing the authorities to seek the source of a journalist's information, legally investigate civil servants who leaked secret material and punishing media who paid for secret information.

Harassment and obstruction

Robert Aschberg, presenter of the "Insider" programme on the privately-owned TV station TV3, and Erik Korsås, a freelance journalist and criminologist, received death threats on 21 February 2003 after investigating Stockholm's "sex fairs." Their report, which had not yet been aired, found that members of the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang and neo-nazis with links to the extreme-right magazine Info 14 were involved in the pornography industry. An envelope was sent to the journalists containing a written death threat, two gun cartridges and two revolver bullets.

A court in the southwestern city of Malmö jailed Jonas Granborg for two years and Peter Bergün for 14 months on 10 March for planning to kidnap Anders Johansson, of the satirical programme "Tredje makten" on the state-funded TV station STV. The pair, connected with the Hell's Angels gang, had intended to kidnap the journalist on 11 July 2002 after a programme about the gang was broadcast. Police foiled the plan.

Thugs threw a stone bearing the words "fear" and "death" through a window of the Stockholm offices of the TV production company Titan Television on the night of 17-18 March 2003. The attack came the day after a broadcast of TV3's programme "Hannah," during which members of the far-right Nationaldemokraterna party and anti-racists tried to debate each other before the neo-nazis stormed out of the studio.


This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.