Champions of freedom of expression recently quadrupled their reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the gunman who shot Norwegian publisher William Nygaard in October 1993. Nygaard survived the shooting outside his Oslo home, but his assailant has never been found.
Nygaard headed publishing firm Aschehoug at the time and had released the Norwegian version of Salman Rushdie’s book Satanic Verses. It’s widely believed that his shooting was tied to the Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa against Rushdie and others connected to the book that was accused of insulting Islam.
Aschehoug, Norway’s publishers’ association and the freedom of expression advocacy group Fritt Ord had long offered a reward of NOK 500,000 to help clear up the attempted murder. They have now raised that to NOK 2 million (USD 266,000) in the hopes it will encourage anyone with information on the attack to come forward. Their initiative comes just weeks after new attacks on freedom of expression in Paris and Copenhagen.
Nygaard, who retired from Achehoug, is now chairman of Norsk PEN, another group concerned with human rights, and told newspaper Aftenposten recently that he still has no fear. He called the attack against the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo “grotesque and unreal” but declined comment on the increased reward aimed at tracking down his attacker.