Press review American eavesdropping

Scandinavian media defends press freedom

Published on 26 August 2013 at 14:06

The government of British Prime Minister David Cameron is a threat to press freedom worldwide, says an open letter sent to the PM by the editors of four major Scandinavian dailies – Aftenposten (Norway), Dagens Nyheter (Sweden), Helsingin Sanomat (Finland) and Politiken (Denmark). This letter, published in the United Kingdom by The Observer, follows the detention of the husband of Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter who revealed that the United States National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on some US allies.

In the letter, the four editors say that

events in Great Britain over the past week give rise to deep concern. [...] We may differ on where to draw the line and strike the right balance, but we should not differ in our determination to protect an open debate about these essential questions. Also, we should stand united to protect individuals engaging in such debates.

"Let's protect press freedom!" writes Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter on August 26. For the paper, the fact that the British secret service asked the editor of The Guardian to destroy the data received from Edward Snowden, the former NSA analyst, is "serious" and "risks undermining press freedom around the world." The paper further says that because the United States and the United Kingdom are among the world's most powerful countries, plus the fact they are among "the principal protectors of freedom and democracy in modern history", their attitude is all the more serious:

Receive the best of European journalism straight to your inbox every Thursday

When regimes in China or Iran force newspapers to destroy hard drives or persecute journalists, it is because these countries are dictatorships. When we do the same thing, it is supposedly to protect democracy.

This view is shared by Norwegian daily Aftenposten: "We are deeply disappointed," the paper says in an editorial, "that a country with a proud tradition of freedom would throw out nearly all of its principles to fight terrorism." The papers all say that the British government's actions:

closely resemble those launched, without opposition, by authoritarian regimes against the media, organisations and individuals when these challenge the authorities' monopoly on power.

Was this article useful? If so we are delighted! It is freely available because we believe that the right to free and independent information is essential for democracy. But this right is not guaranteed forever, and independence comes at a cost. We need your support in order to continue publishing independent, multilingual news for all Europeans. Discover our membership offers and their exclusive benefits and become a member of our community now!

Are you a news organisation, a business, an association or a foundation? Check out our bespoke editorial and translation services.

Support independent European journalism

European democracy needs independent media. Join our community!

On the same topic