European Federation of Journalists

EFJ and Swedish Journalists Union condemn the political interference from Polish ambassador

Credits: Scott Graham

Polish Ambassador to Sweden sent a formal letter of complaint to the Swedish online news site Dagens Arena for calling the Polish government “right-wing nationalist”. The European Federation of Journalists joined its affiliate, the Swedish Journalists Union, in condemning the political interference and considered as inappropriate the update request.

The text in question is an opinion piece written by Stockholm city council member Magnus Runsten and published on 11 January with the headline “That’s How Democracy Wins“. He wrote: “Just a few months ago, Donald Trump was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the Swedish Democrats. An initiative they took together with like-minded parties, including the ruling right-wing nationalists in Hungary and Poland, who have already succeeded in dismantling their own democracies to the point that they are no longer classified by Freedom House as full-fledged democracies.”

The same day, Jonas Nordling, the editor-in-chief and publisher of the news media outlet, received a letter by the Polish ambassador Joanna Hofman to complain about the “misleading information” and the “highly inappropriate” wording. Hofman concluded: “We would highly appreciate it if you corrected the information included in the article.” The letter is available here.

“The writer’s right to describe the Polish government as right-wing nationalist is part of a free society. Just like the ambassador’s right to react to this label,” Nordling responded in a new letter. He added: “But to change the writer’s opinion by “updating” the text according to the wishes of the Polish state is not relevant.”

Ulrika Hyllert, the president of the Swedish Journalists Union, said: “It is deeply worrying that a representative of the state in our neighbouring country, Poland, is acting in this way. Such an attempt to restrict free speech should not occur in a democracy and is a threat to freedom of expression. This is extremely serious and something we must never get used to.”