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Media criticized for publishing terror suspect's name

Published måndag 23 november 2015 kl 09.52
Newspaper printing press. File photo: "IMG_3219" Anuj Biyani. CC by 2.0. https://flic.kr/p/529PoA.
Newspaper printing press. File photo: "IMG_3219" Anuj Biyani. CC by 2.0. https://flic.kr/p/529PoA.

Media outlets are being questioned for going out with the name of a 22-year-old man who was arrested in Boliden last week on suspicion of preparation to commit a terrorist crime and then later released.

Björn Häger, the chair of an organization for publicists, Publicistklubben, told newspaper Dagens Nyheter that while he does not have all the details around the media's reporting of the story, he believes that they got caught up in hysteria and that the young man will have to bear the consequences of this for years to come.

"He'll be Google-able forever as a suspected terrorist," said Häger.

"I believe there will be a discussion about how early we were to publish his picture and his name, whether we were gripped by hysteria based on what Säpo (the Swedish intelligence service) had said and hadn't stayed independent," Häger said.

Anne Ramberg, the chair of The Swedish Bar Association, was also critical of how the media acted, telling the paper, "For the individual, it's incredibly serious to be pointed out in the media as a terrorist suspect. This shows that it is so very easy to get caught up in the heated atmosphere that prevails."

Swedish Radio was one of the outlets which went out with the suspect's name, and later thought better of it. On Sunday, Michael Österlund, the interim head of Swedish Radio News, explained on the department's blog that initially, there had been reason to publish the man's name.

"We judged, partly on the basis that Säpo had raised the risk level for terrorist crime in Sweden, that there was an imperatively public interest in following the police's search for the suspect, closely and in detail."

Österlund wrote that after the man was released, that reasoning was no longer valid, and that in future Swedish Radio News articles about this story, the man's name would not be published. Past stories, where the man's name was already published, would include links to stories that state that he is no longer a suspect.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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