Editors of four of the Nordic countries’ leading newspapers were sending a sharp letter of protest to British Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday, claiming that his “criminalization” of the British newspaper The Guardian will undermine the free press worldwide.
The editors of Helsingen Sanomat of Finland, Aftenposten of Norway, Politiken of Denmark and Dagens Nyheter of Sweden wrote that they were deeply disturbed that British police were launching a criminal investigation of The Guardian, which broke the story about how the US’ National Security Agency (NSA) has conducted massive surveillance of millions of Americans and, later, foreign nationals, as part of the war against terror. The revelations came from confidential documents released by Edward Snowden, who recently was granted asylum in Russia.
British authorities have since cracked down on The Guardian, and his Nordic colleagues believe that fundamental principles of a free press are at stake. Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, shaken over a raid at the newspaper’s offices and the confinement of the partner of the Guardian journalist that had contact with Snowden, said he is grateful for his Nordic colleagues’ support.
Norwegian newspapers have also editorialized against the 35-year jail term handed to another US whistleblower, whom US authorities view as a traitor, Bradley Manning. Manning’s release of confidential documents revealed among other things how civilian casualties in Iraq were much higher than US officials had admitted to, and how US helicopters killed several children and two journalists from news bureau Reuters who had tried to help an injured man. The pilots were quoted as celebrating their hits from the cockpit.
Newspaper Dagsavisen, for example, called Mannning’s prison term “out of all proportion,” adding that the pilots were never charged “while the whistle-blower gets 35 years in prison.” Dagsavisen also noted how the US military corporal who led the abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison was sentenced to 10 years and released after six-and-a-half.