Sunday, February 20, 2011

Does Sweden Inflict Trial by Media against Assange?

Analysis
By Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli*

Contents: i) Introduction. Aims ii) Background A: The “duck pond”. Some aspects on the situation of Swedish journalists, iii) Background B: Sweden is not neutral. Media reports are mainly uniform, iv) The trial by media against Assange: a) Erroneous and information and deployment of disinformation, b) systematic omission of relevant information, c) character assassination, v) The “Let’s talk about” campaign and the coordinated deployment of disinformation by a group of journalists, initiated by an alleged friend of Lady A, vi) Censorship in the Swedish media-apparatus regarding critical articles on the Swedish case against Assange, vii) Conclusion

I
Introduction

Svenska dagbladet, a main Swedish newspaper, illustrated its 17 Feb 2011  article “Idyllic picture of Sweden is darkened” with a montage showing the notorious criminal Göran Lindberg -- a world-reviled, convicted serial rapist (including the rape of a 14-year old child) – portrayed together with Julian Assange and his lawyer Mark Stephens. A conspicuous columnist of the newspaper Aftonbladet refers 13 Feb 2011 to Julian Assange as a paranoid idiot who refuses come to Sweden to confront trial”.  The competitor newspaper, Expressen, describes 13 Feb 2011 in its cultural page “the sexual pleasure of Mr Assange is just an inescapable element for his severe compulsive needs that are beyond. . .”


The above is a sample of recent publications by four main Swedish newspapers. These media (DN, SvD, Expressen and Aftonbladet) have published a total of 802 articles on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks since the reports on the subject began in July 2010. To assess such reports I have conducted an empirical and statistical analysis based in a consecutive sample of 103 articles corresponding to the total reports published in the last month-period ending 17 February 2011.
As an overview, the aim of the analysis was to test the notion “trial by the media” in the official case of Sweden against Assange. This is a serious complaint because it involves issues of human rights violations. In Sweden, this allegation of human rights violations has not been specially commented upon and is ignored by most of media. But it is widely discussed in the rest of the world. The Australian Ambassador has recently conveyed a letter to the Swedish government containing a plea on that Assange’s human rights should be respected in the case of an extradition to Sweden. This alleged public media trial together with top-government statements, as expressed by Assange lawyers, would have generated a nationwide, hostile situation for Julian Assange, who has not yet even charged, heard or prosecuted by any Swedish Court.
I have done independent research departing from that hypothesis. My goal has been to test whether the media-trial theory is valid in Sweden or how much empirical material exists beyond the lawyers’ professional assessment. I used a main parameter of inclusion versus exclusion of the following categories a) Objective reporting, b) Erroneous information or deployment of disinformation, c) Omission of relevant information, d) Personality descriptions ad-hominem. Further, a theme on censure of contributions critical to the main-stream thesis and exercised in the blog-linking process to the Swedish newspapers was also analysed.
The result was an overrepresentation of media articles with a non-objective reporting (56 percent) on issues around the accusations or the Court proceedings in London and particularly with a negative content towards Julian Assange as a person. A breakdown of this group shows that articles containing information mainly erroneous in content or deceiving in its formulation were 20 of the total articles in the sample. The articles omitting relevant information in the context of the article’s subject or with regard to the article’s heading - although such information was available or published by other media – was 36 percent of all articles.
Among the articles which referred Julian Assange’s personal character or clearly implied features of his personality (forty percent of total articles), far more articles (72 percent) did so by using hostile, detrimental or aggressive terms in contrast with articles using positive terms (28 percent). When comparing these variables, the statistical analysis showed a ratio of 0.38, pointing to a significant overrepresentation of negative assessments.
The analysis suggests a manifested hostility by the Swedish media against Assange and objectivity deficits in the news reports related to the case, raising questions about the journalists’ professional culture and ethics, their disregard for the critical and investigative function of journalism, and their passivity or condescendence towards press-information provided by authority. The results of the investigation raise also the question why Swedish journalists employed by traditional media act so uniformly.
Finally, I scrutinize whether the frequently claimed freedom of expression by Swedish newspapers can be compatible with censorship exercised by the media, by means of blocking opinions viewed as contradicting conventional wisdom, such as exposing reasons for Sweden’s official antagonism towards Assange and WikiLeaks. Who in the Swedish media is deciding to filter the links of articles to admit certain blogs and censure others? What are the criteria? Is it the newspaper publisher or the journalist who is authoring the newspaper article? Or is it the blog-search engine company providing the link from the blogosphere?
These questions arise from a recent article in Sweden by the prominent American writer and journalist Naomi Wolf (12/2). The main Swedish newspapers refused to link to her article, creating further international embarrassment for the Swedish media beyond the facts of the Assange case. Her article, published as a guest-contribution in Professors blog, analyzed in the main the police proceedings around the investigations on Julian Assange.
A main conclusion derived from this investigation is that such “trial by the media” does exist objectively, and in distinctly negative terms.
On the other hand, it was also noticeable in this investigation that some of the journalists, individually considered, scored high both in objective reporting and by a neutral characterization of Julian Assange. It should be also recognized that a number of other Swedish journalists and bloggers have reacted differently than those following the official line in the case Assange, and have contributed with critical posts or columns. There are also some important Web-based media publications such as Newsmill.se and Second-Opinion.se that in their pages have also published some critical or alternative analysis by a variety of authors. But open-minded, established publishers are few in contrast to the mainstream media.
The psychosocial impact of a negative media campaign during implementation is difficult to assess nationwide. However, some useful parallels could be drawn with regard to the associations between past similar Swedish media behaviour and incidence-measurements in Public Health, that is also mentioned in this article. 

II
Background A: The “Duck Pond”
Referring to a particular political debate, the leader of the Social Democratic Party, Mona Sahlin, suggested recently that Sweden, being such a small country, could not have big political problems debated a long time. Instead, however, the truth might be the opposite:  that Sweden’s big problem in reference to political debate is posed by the country’s small size.  At the end, there is no real debate. This is possibly because in Sweden everybody within the political-cultural elite seems to know each other, or is related with each other for one reason or the other. All this produces a high “internal” mobility of journalists among publishing employers. Also, there are not many employers in Sweden. The consolidation of ownership in Sweden’s main newspapers reduces the number of owners basically to two: Bonnier (with the biggest share) and Schibsted. In its turn, this provides only one prevalent ideological perspective. These are the details:
Dagens Nyheter is owned by Bonnier. Svenska Dagbladet is owned 99,4% by Schibsted. Aftonbladet owned 49,9% by Schibsted. Expressen is owned by Bonnier. Kvällsposten by Bonnier. GT by Bonnier and Stockholm City by Bonnier.  The Swedish News Agency TT is owned by "the big newspapers and media companies". So, I at the end, this is and again by Bonnier and Schibsted.
The result is that a significant number of Swedish journalists, together with other important segments of the “cultural-elite” manpower, transfer from one point to the other within a reduced perimeter  in  job availability. Also, the consolidation of ownership in the media results in a quite monolithic ideological perspective under which employed journalists would produce news-articles and columns.
This is a phenomenon that Swedes sometimes refers as the “duck pond” (ankdammen). That term also is used extensively for other spheres of the Swedish political life. Being a little country, the relatively reduced cultural space in which Swedish journalist co-habit will naturally facilitate the coordination of the campaigns they are assigned to promote (See Prime-scandal below). However, the  “Ankdammen” allegory refers also, and more concrete,  to the particular feature in these campaigns in which one identical text will be repeated by different journalists in their published articles, allegorically “like ducks in a pond” (see down below the anti-Assange media campaign “Let’s talk about it”) .
The above professional situation does not affect only low-ranking journalists. Unlike many other societies, the chief political-editor of a pro-government newspaper in Sweden can shift jobs and become chief-editor of the “opposition” newspaper. One day they may work in the state owned public-service media. The next day they work in private USA-owned PR corporations or agencies, or in so called think-tank organizations (e.g. Timbro). All of this is with no regard at all towards the political character of the assignment.
Here is  a concrete illustration: The  recent “Prime-scandal” exposed in December 2010 showed that a main PR firm (Prime) run in Sweden by influential members of the social-democratic party had an ongoing PR-assignment contracted in June by the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise “Svensk Näringsliv” (a business federation serving also as a national front organization of employers). The assignment, with a code name “Naturally grown,” was designed to last four years. The plan was to aim to secretly manipulate the Social Democratic party towards the support of advantageous legislation in Näringsliv’s interest. This meant bringing a profit to international corporations and big private companies, with clear detriment to the public interests of the nation.
Let us observe the main aspect from a cultural-anthropological perspective about these aggravating political scandals in Sweden. The problem is not the confirmation that that such scandals DO happen in Sweden (even though it is best known abroad as a corruption-free society). The main problem is that no one really cares in Sweden about holding these people liable. In the long run, everything in Sweden is social-consensus, and then forgiven and forgotten. No one gets a penalty for politically-ethical misconduct in Sweden, not even a social reprimand. There is no Swedish law that would make politicians, or public servants, accountable to that extent.
This was clear in a spectacular and aggravating episode that concerned Assange and WikiLeaks last summer. Assange’s organization, WikiLeaks, disclosed the Swedish government’s involvement in secret agreements of strategic value with a foreign power (USA). This focused on systematic transfer of intelligence and sensitive data about the Swedish population. All this it was done by the government, hidden from the Swedish Parliament.
I have remarked elsewhere that, in any other country, this would have resulted in a media scandal, treason accusations regarding national interests, government failure, etc. In Sweden, however, nothing at all like that happened. Instead, the media turned voraciously against the messenger that portrayed a reality apparently no-one wishes to confront. This sort of behaviour from the Swedish media could be described as “denial with projective identification”.
In truth, one of the few exceptions in the Swedish media’s behaviour on the episode described above was Dagens Nyheter publication (7/12 2010) of a debate article by professor Wilhelm Agrell (commented here in Second-Opinion). That was nearly the only one.
Would all that be because Swedes strive always to achieve “consensus” solutions, as colleague Agrell hypothesized? Or could it be instead because the ideological differences between Swedish journalists - mirroring the general panorama of Sweden in that regard - are not really that big? Being therefore, such differences not ethically determined? Could it be because that the strong feeling of national loyalty that Swedes share makes them see the establishment’s newspapers as national institutions rather than politically-minded private media networks? Or is that manifest national loyalty, in fact, social obedience brought about by alienation?
A similar phenomenon of uniform Swedish journalists’ reports was observed during the alarm-spread by the media in the beginning of 2000’s of a psychiatric pseudo-epidemic “caused” by a fake diagnosis given the name of “utbrändhet”. The effect was that Sweden health authorities ended in reporting the world highest incidence per capita of individuals on sick leave for psychiatric and mental problems – thanks to the pseudo diagnosis utbrändhet and the “epidemics” which ensued.  Stress in Sweden has definitely not disappeared, at the contrary, but the “diagnosis” and the “epidemic” faded finally away.
In the end,  Professors blog demonstrated that the economic interests of the corporative pharmaceutical industry in marketing the use of new SSRI anti-depressive among Swedish psychiatrists,  added to the profitable “rehabilitation” enterprises set up by the pseudo diagnose inventors, were in fact the ultimately reasons behind both the never scientifically-based diagnosis and the media campaign. And the people convinced they were sick?
A lesson from that tragic illustration is to understand how possible and feasible a manipulated mass-psychosis, totally beyond common sense, can be actualized among the Swedish population.
It cannot be by accident that the very same journalists at the established media which distinguished their selves in the irrational campaign defending the cultural validity of a scientific inexistence Swedish diagnose (Sweden became the unique country in the world with such enormous spread “epidemic”), are those who – like the case of Aftonbladet’s Joahanna Hildebrandt – now again, with much aggression, attacks the person of Julian Assange with articles of extreme virulence (“a paranoid idiot who refuses come to Sweden to confront trial”). A new Swedish mass-psychosis seems to be ad portas, and it is undoubtedly a central piece in the designed Trial by Media against WikiLeaks.

III
Background B: Sweden is not neutral and above all, Swedish media traditionally covers Swedish international disputes by plainly repeating the official line without further question it.
One main argument used by some Anglo-Saxon journalists focused on Sweden’s campaign against Assange and WikiLeaks is the notion of a pacific Sweden who is modern and above all neutral. An independent and neutral country such us Sweden would never run cases on behalf of superpower USA, it is suggested. For instance, Clarie Harvey article on the case Assange in the Daily Telegraph bases that assumption in that that Sweden is a “proudly independent nation that remained neutral even during World War II”.
Let us examine the facts about Swedish neutrality in World War II and in current times:

a. Sweden was NOT that neutral during World War II. In actual fact, Sweden had a secret agreement with Nazi Germany which permitted all along the transit of German troops through Sweden in their way to occupied Norway. Prominent members of the Swedish establishment were Nazi or pro-Nazi.  Sweden sold to Germany the iron which held the weaponry manufacture in Nazi Germany ongoing.

b. The current foreign policy of Sweden is OPENLY and actively pro-NATO. Sweden’s troops participate in the military occupation of Afghanistan under the command of USA military. During the Iraq invasion of USA troops, Sweden assisted with material and strategic aid in the bombing of Iraq shelters.

c. Sweden has an ongoing strategic, military and political-police intelligence operation with the USA (the Pentagon, CIA and FBI). Among other things, this compromises sensitive data of the Swedish population, as disclosed by WikiLeaks.

d. As recently revealed (February 2011) – also by WikiLeaks – Sweden currently actively exercises an aggressive diplomatic and foreign policy aimed to the destabilization of Russian’s geopolitical situation.

How all the above could possibly be regarded as “neutral” positions in international affairs is straight absurd.

Secondly, the international media journalists that base their reports from Sweden on the case of Sweden against Assange - and largely quote Swedish media articles - might have not considered that in Sweden the main media has a tradition of not contesting the official line provided by government. And the same is seemingly the case of some Swedish journalists working as correspondents of international media in Sweden, as analyzed in my article in Second-Opinion (7/2, 2011).

Whether this phenomenon would be an implementation of established designs related to the country’s Psychological Warfare strategy, or a matter of simply loyalty from Swedes – including the media and its journalist – to their country in moments of international distress, I could possibly only speculate.

The fact is that this peculiar journalist tradition – or absence of it – has several times in the past been focus of international reporting on Sweden. One occasion was the riots in Gothenburg during the publicized visit of George Bush to the EU summit hosted by Sweden 2001.  International journalists who in vast numbers went to report on the event wrote thereafter about that astonishing professional phenomenon, namely Swedish journalists not questioning the authorities during official press conferences, or that the media basically either reported uncommented government press releases or along the day modified their analyses to make them compatible with both the government version and the respective “consensus” generated by the protesters’ actions  among all Swedish political parties (these reactions nearly exactly as in the case around Assange, viewed – although not yet publicly recognized – as a internationally embarrassing crisis).

One illustration of the above described professional docility towards the authorities in the reporting of the case Assange/WikiLeaks is given by this article by journalist Oscar Joulander in Expressen on September 8th, 2010, suggestively headed “Assange: I am the only victim”. In the article, the journalist reports an interview with the press secretary of the Swedish Foreign Office Anders Jörle. Jörle states the following: 

-       “They (USA) have not been in contact with us (officials at the Foreign ministry) through the official channels”

The journalist concludes and writes in the article: 

-       “At the Swedish Foreign Office it is denied than they have been contacted by the USA”. 

End of the story. The journalist does not infer the obvious, that the secretary of the Foreign Office is not denying that contacts have occurred, although through other channels. But the journalist does not care to ask, or does not think in asking, or perhaps he did but the newspaper would not print that. We would not know. What we know is that in either case the journalist is NOT doing his professional job, and that is what this article is also about.

For as in the main part of contacts led to the agreements of the Swedish government with the USA, they have been “not through the official channels”. Otherwise, if those contacts are labelled “official”, the government is obliged to inform the Parliament, with the ensuing risk of making the talks a public domain. Does not the journalist know that?

And here is where the rationale of WikiLeaks   is best understood, as also the interest of the Swedish government to silence the organization. As noted above (Background B), WikiLeaks disclosed one of such unofficial talks between the CIA/FBI and the Swedish government, which in fact resulted in an agreement between the two governments for the implementation of intelligence operations in the form of transference of information from Sweden to the USA. And the Swedish government, far more that the USA government (USA government and policies are predictable, and strategically open) cannot afford that these leaks should continue. Assange has to be stopped, be put out of productive track. And some wish to even punish him, or simply kill him. However, to reach any feasible end in that regard, in the case of a political celebrity as Julian Assange it is first necessary to kill his character. And here is where the smearing operation enters the scene. 


IV
The trial by media against Assange
One of the serious accusations put currently forward against Sweden is that the Swedish media would have already passed judgment and sentence on Julian Assange, in conjunction with public partisan declarations of the Swedish government on behalf of one of the sides in the allegations, still not treated at any court. This issue has been put forward not only by some British lawyers, as the Swedish public have been informed by the media during the past weeks. In fact, the Swedish government had received over a week ago – and hold unknown from the public - a communication from the Australian government raising concern on whether Julian Assange would get a fair trial in case he would be extradited to Sweden. The letter, only in form of excerpts, was put in the media first only February 17th 2011. The information when the letter from the Australian Embassy arrived to the Swedish government is concealed.
The four main newspapers in Sweden are Dagens Nyheter (DN), Svenska Dagbladet (SvD), Expressen (Expr) and Aftonbladet (AB). From the time these newspapers started to report on the Assange case until February 17, 2011, they have published altogether N= 802 articles (DN n= 194, SvD n= 213, Expr n= 184, AB n= 230). The material here analysed correspond to all consecutive articles published in the last period of 17 January – 17 February 2011. The period was selected mainly to reflect the current, actual trend. Besides, the article-flow increased in the period partly due to media covering of the proceedings in the London Court.
The material consisted in 103 consecutive articles published by the main newspapers – both in the printing version and on-line - during the indicated period of January 17th – February 17th 2011 (DN n=24, SvD n=31, AB n= 32, Expressen n= 16). Drop-out cases N= 13 (DN n=2, SvD n= 7, AB n=1, Expressen n= 3). Criteria for drop out cases were a) article-links corresponding to video clips, b) articles not dealing in the main with Assange, c) a case of dead link. A resulting total of 90 articles were considered in the statistical analysis. The distribution of the material per media and variables studied can be visualized in table 1, table 2, and Fig 1 below.

Table 1.  Types of character description about Julian Assange in articles of main Swedish newspapers (Period 17 Jan – 17 Feb 2011).
Categories, A: Neutral or absent, B: Mainly hostile, C: Mainly sympathetic



Articles
n=

A
Absent or mainly neutral

B
Mainly
supportive

C
Mainly hostile

Rate
Supportive/
Hostile*


Hostility rank**
DN
22
14
3
5
0.6
3
Svd
24
12
2
10
0.2
2
Exp
13
8
0
5
0.0
1
AB
31
20
5
6
0.8
4
TOTAL
90
54
10
26
0.38
(average)
-

*Rate Supportive/hostile: minus value 1.0= predominantly hostile
**Hostility rank: 1= most hostile, 4= less hostile


The assessments in the variables A, B, and C were also measured in regard to the correspondence between content and heading of the article analysed.



Table 2. Objective VS non-objective content in the articles of Swedish main newspapers on the case Assange. Period 17 Jan – 17 Feb 2011 


Variables

DN


Svd

Exp

AB

Total articles
n=

Representation of variables in material N= 90
Objective reporting
10
9
5
16
40
44 %
Erroneous information / disinformation
2
5
3
8
18
20 %
Omission of relevant information
10
10
5
7
32
36 %
Total
N= 90
22
24
13
31
90
100 %


Table 3. Assessment-categories distributed by media


Assessment Categories

DN
Percent of
22 articles

Svd
Percent of
24 art

Exp
Percent of
13 art

AB
Percent of
of 31 art
Objective reporting
45
37
38
52
Erroneous information / disinformation
9
21
24
26
Omission of relevant information
45
42
38
22
Total
100
100
100
100


In further detail, a comparison of  the assessed categories for each newspaper  (see Table 3 and Fig 1) shows that Aftonbladet had highest representation of objective reporting (52% among all AB articles), followed by DN (45%), Expressen (38%) and Svd (37%). With regard to omission of relevant - otherwise available - information in the articles analysed, DN had the highest representation of articles assessed to have omitted determinant/relevant information for the subject reported (45%) followed by Svd (42%) and Expressen (22%). On the other hand Aftonbladet had the highest representation of erroneous information (26%).


Fig.1. Distribution of the assessed categories among the four media comprised in the sample

V
“Let’s talk about it”
A further issue that needs to be investigated is the macro-campaigns organized by Swedish journalists around the character assassination of Julian Assange. One of these campaigns had the name of “Let’s talk about” (Prata om det).
A woman, journalist, had made believe the Swedish public that certain factors around the Assange case had elicited her idea of inviting - via so called twittering – the open discussion of  personal experiences related to sexual offences. The “invitation” was rapidly publicized in the traditional and social media and ended with a massive campaign of so called twittering.
In actual fact, instead of being the spontaneous reaction of one woman - as deceivingly announced in the Swedish media - the initiative was from the beginning a coordinated operation initiated by a number of journalists, whom are now suspected of  being   friends of one of the nominal accusers of Julian Assange.
The theme deserves a research project of its own: Who are these inquiring minds in the social media? What is their real motivation?

VI
Censorship
Naomi Wolf is a world known author and a liberal-progressive political activist as well distinguished in the intellectual leadership of the Feminist movement. Her biographers have signalled her as the leader spoke person of the Third wave of the feminist movement after the publication in 1991 of The Beauty Myth.

Naomi Wolf has also authored in current times notorious analyses on the Assange case. Her opinion on issues around this case is widely quoted and due respected also on the fact that Naomi has 26-years experience in the supportive management of rape victims. This has given her considerable experience. In other words, she knows what she is talking about.

Wolf’s opinions have, however, met a solid barrier in the Swedish establishment in control of the public debate, particularly the media. Her theses are, beyond an intellectual-argument confrontation, simply characterized as hostile to the Swedish rape legislation, as put forward in Svenska dagbladet (SvD), or scorned in the Swedish blogosphere. Naomi Wolf’s analyses infuriated also Swedish politicians such as the former chairman of the Swedish Vänsterpartiet (formerly the Communist Party) Gudrun Schyman - afterwards chairman of the Feminist Initiative party - which wrote a column about it in Newsmill. 

Sweden, as mentioned in the background of this article, is a small country as well with these particularities in which: 

a) Ideological issues are not paramount and differences most often disappear in a “Swedish consensus”, 

b) Journalists are professionally close and interact in the same reduced professional arena (the above described “duck-pond” phenomenon) independently of their employment status, which include the free lance journalists, 

c) there is a probed collective tradition of chauvinist-like reaction, across all political/ideological allegiances, when international criticism threaten basic Swedish institutions, Swedish values (included juridical, moral, and in general all the society’s supra-structural manifestations) or the idiosyncratic auto esteem of the nation.

Among other matters, the article mentioned Karl Rove’s potential involvement in the Swedish case against Assange (described here). 

Her column in Professors blogg had a huge impact among Swedish blog-readers. The site Bloggar.se picked her column Feb. 12 to be its top-recommended reading on the Julian Assange theme. Knuff.se also cited the article in its front page that day.   

Yet some in the Swedish media apparatus objected the article’s spreading the possibility that Rove might be relevant to the Assange case, or even to the Sweden’s governing Moderate Party. Roland Poirier Martinsson  - a Swedish right-wing political columnist (Svenska dagbladet) formerly based in the USA, and who affirms he was the one that invited Rove to Sweden – issued  the following appeal in an email about Noemi Wolf's publication in Professors blogg:

 "it would be nice if we are keeping away from see that it spreads in the Swedish blogosphere"
["det vore trevligt om vi slapp se den spridas i den svenska bloggosfären"].

Dr. Poirier Martinsson's email referred above was published in makthavare.se, as an appendix- commentary to the post “Naomi Wolfe: Karl Rove arbetar åt moderaterna””. The email is said to be addressed to makthavare.se’s publisher Andreas Henriksson (seen here in a picture with Rove published in Henriksson’s blog). The wrong spelling name "Wolfe” would have also eventually helped to inhibit a successful searching of a reference to her article.

Also, the linking of Wolf’s article to the main Swedish newspapers as Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet (SvD), Aftonbladet and Expressen, was further denied.
Because the linking process did not function as normally for these articles as they normally have for years worked for Professors blogg, I decided to phone from Italy Karin Thurfjell, the journalist of Svenska dagbladet who authored the article which I had tried unsuccessfully to link Wolf’s contribution. I had chosen particularly Thurfjell’s article first because in my opinion it is one of the best, objective and balanced news-article, written in Sweden on the Assange case connected to the risks posed to Sweden by the international-wide criticism. 

The journalist said she did not know anything about the problem and referred me to SvD web-redaction

After several calls and emails, the head of this unit, Johan Silfversten Bergman, finally communicated to me that my request was beyond their ability to meet because the (links) “selection is done purely technical and it is something we cannot manoeuvre” (“Detta urval sker rent tekniskt och är inget vi kan styra”).

Then, I sent an email directly to journalist Karin Thurfjell based in  SvD’s published announced policy about news-suggestions from the readers. I asked her to consider the information and analysis provided by Naomi Wolf on the investigation process about the case Assange in Sweden (as they were of public interest), giving to the journalist the articles’ links. Karin Thurfjell never replied.

At that point, I was unaware of the public appeal to blockade Naomi Wolf’s article in the blogosphere done by Poirier Martinson (the 2008 host of Karl Rove’s stay in Sweden).  Therefore, I still considered the problem as due to a technical error. So,  I repeated in detail  the  Wolf article in yet a new blog post in Professors blog, and I posted that link again to the newspaper’s article. This time, I tried to link it also to other articles on the subject Assange then currently in the Swedish media, among other in Dagens Nyheter (DN).

I call DN afterwards with the same questions about the malfunctioning link of Wolf’s article from the DN-articles. They suggested I send   my question per email and assured me that I would get a written answer (per email), the day after at the latest. DN never replied.

By then, I had published in Professors blog a new guest-column by Andrew Kreig, the prominent Washington base attorney, journalist, and human-rights advocate. Kreig's article was a new updated material based in his research on the alleged connection Rove/Sweden under the title “Karl Rove’s Swedish Connections: The Controversy And The Facts. I repeated the usual link-procedure and tried to link the article to publications at SvD, DN and Expressen. The link containing this new article touching upon the issue on Rove was neither accepted.

The linking-system used by the above mentioned Swedish newspaper is run by a company called Twingly.se (or Twingly.com). Martin Källström, Twingly’s Chief Executive Officer, wrote the following in addressing a question by blogger Hanna Lävquist, as given in her post:

 “The newspapers which are connected to Twingly get reports from their readers if the content of a blog is inadequate. When such report arrives in Twingly’s administration-gear, intervenes the “moderator” (newspaper’s Web-controller) and look into the blog’s content. . .” “You have a serious and good blog, I cannot think that some newspaper would blockade your article.” 

In the above phrase “some newspaper would blockade your article” Twingly unequivocally admits that a Swedish newspaper would exercise censure against the publications which content are estimated as inappropriate. The question is still who had authored the request for censuring both Naomi Wolf’s and Andrew Kreig’s articles on the theme Karl Rove, Assange and Sweden, published in the Swedish based Professors blog?

VII
Conclusion
The statements by Julian Assange’s lawyers in London on a Trial by the Media implemented in Sweden against their client are in this investigation sustained with facts.
Marcello Ferrada-Noli
Bergamo, Italy, 20 February 2011

*About the author. Ph.D. in Psychiatry (Karolinska Institutet) and Professor Emeritus in Public Health Sciences. Formerly Research Fellow in Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. At present, Senior Advisor at the Department of Immunology, Stockholm University. Also currently, alternate member of the Swedish Ethical Review Board, Uppsala Region. Email  fdenoli@gmail.com / Homepage

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Media 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, 13, 14
, 15, 10, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

17 comments:

Jonas said...

Interesting. Some minor remarks...

GT and Kvällsposten are not much more than regionalised editions of Expressen (in Göteborg/west Sweden and Malmö/Skåne respectively) - most of the content is the same, so it's not really fair to categorise them as separate newspapers.

Swedish politicians have openly said that Sweden is NOT neutral, for various reasons - i.e. membership in the EU, NATO Partnership for Peace and so on.

Vänsterpartiet is called Vänsterpartiet not Vänster partiet - the latter does not make grammatical sense.

You may also like to note that the justice minister Beatrice Ask (Moderate party, nominally the most US-friendly political party in Sweden), as well as various legal experts have stated that it is extremely unlikely that Assange could be extradited from Sweden to the USA. According to them, nothing that Wikileaks has done is against Swedish law. Swedish law guarantees press freedom extremely strongly compared to most other European countries. It's one of the reasons for which Assange was considering basing Wikileaks in Sweden previously. I would say that he faces a far greater risk of being extradited to USA from UK, London has a very one-sided (in USA's favour) extradition treaty with Washington. So, he may actually be safer from the US in Sweden than in the UK! The truth is that the allegations of rape against Assange have nothing to do with Wikileaks and concern only Julian Assange's conduct as a private person. His attempt to associate it with Wikileaks is quite difficult for many Swedes to understand and it is perhaps why for many it causes people to question whether he is doing so in order to hide something. Of course, this does not take away from the fact that the investigation by the Prosecutor's Office in Stockholm has been very poorly handled.

Anonymous said...

It's a pity that an otherwise great post is clouded by only some parts being well researched and others seem to be complete speculation. Please update the part about the initiative behind "Let's talk about it" with something substantial and I'll happily link here.

Marcello Ferrada de Noli (Italy) said...

@Jonas
I thank you for your correction about Vänster-partiet. Now as Vänsterpatiet altogether, perhaps the party will be finally more at the vänster, or more a party. Both things are needed for these folks to be perhaps more influential in the Swedish political spectra.

Marcello Ferrada de Noli (Italy) said...

@ Anonym

I share your concern. Notice however that I said, manifestly "The theme deserves a research project of its own". I am on that, in other words.
And I do not mean to be rude, honestly (the fact you have observed that it would be necessary to inquire into such important episode in the media campaign against Assange, tells for your wise tenure and approach), but have you consider to do that important research yourself? Time is running. And by the way, I would be happy to link you far and wide, not only here.

Further, If you would have some relevant material, well sourced, that you would wish to share for this research on the "Let’s talk about it" deception (and this appeal goes for any reader of this post), I would greatly appreciate if you contact me at fdenoli@gmail.com

I thank you in advance

Nexso said...

Buongiorno Professor Ferrada,
Seguo da tempo Wikileaks e le sue rivelazioni e ogni volta che un media lo attacca cercando di storcere la sua immagine, comprendo quanto sia importante il lavor svolto da Assage affinchè informazioni scomode per alcuni, siano rese pubbliche per il bene di molti. Mi dispiace molto che anche in Svezia si attacchi tale organizzazione non-profit ma putroppo nemmeno in Italia le cose vanno tanto bene. Non appena nel nostro paese è stata resa pubblica la notizia dei famosi cables, i vari media italiani hanno subito definito tali informazioni semplici gossip, ridimensionando quindi la loro importanza. E' stato solo grazie a Internet che ho potuto scoprire la verità. Grazie ai video su Youtube di Al Jazeera English e ha quelli diffusi della stessa Wikileaks che ho compreso l'orrore che i nostri giornali volevano nascondere. Adesso invece, se ne parla ma poco e in modo imprecisato. E' davvero uno schifo. Però, ciò che mi colpisce di più e che non tollero nel modo più assoluto sono coloro i quali beffeggiano apertamente Wikileaks e cioè Striscia la notizia che quotidianamente la offende con una stupida gag. Io per protesta ho aperto un gruppo su Facebook chiamato "Difendiamo Wikileaks" e ogni sera invio una lettera di protesta. Ne ho scritte già 18. Mi scuso con tutti i suoi lettori inglesi che non capiranno nulla di ciò che le ho appena scritto ma lei è il primo italiano che difende Wikileaks e io non ho saputo resistere. La ringrazio per questo sfogo e complimenti per l'articolo.
Giordano

Anonymous said...

How come Mr.Ferrada doesn't realize that the article about Mr. Assange in Expressen is meant to be a joke?

Marcello Ferrada de Noli (Italy) said...

@ Nexso

Giordano,

La ringrazio per il vostro appoggio. Non ho saputo che sono stato “il primo italiano che difende Wikileaks". Se fosse così, è senza dubbio - per me - un onore.

Credo, tuttavia, che il Professors blogg è il sito svedese che ha pubblicato la maggior parte degli articoli (in inglese) sul caso Assange. E io sono determinato a continuare nella difesa di questo importante tema collegato all human-rights.

La ringrazio veramente per il vostro sostegno

Cordiali saluti

Marcello Ferrada de Noli

Anonymous said...

Thank you for an informative blog!

I hope this might be helpful regarding #prataomdet (#talkaboutit)!

Below you find quite a few very informative threads and blogs with revealing information and articles of the campaign #prataomdet (#talkaboutit) (Note: it’s not ‘let’s talk about it’!) #prataomdet, as #talkaboutit, is widely spread as a ‘concept’, so it’s good to use that original phrase/name. It is useful not only to read the links below, but also people’s comments at the blogs, where more information and links to other sites are found (the ones in Swedish can easily be translated on line). Apart from this information and links below, quite a lot more material can naturally be found on the internet.

Please note that prataomdet’s own webpages in Swedish and in English – www.prataomdet.se -have been changed, and are nowadays not as well connected with Julian Assange’s name and the ongoing case as it was before the campaign was revealed. Also note that the so called box of facts that each newspaper had printed next to the #prataomdet stories in December, now when new articles are printed do not any longer mention Julian Assange’s name (or WikiLeaks as some papers also did). You can still though search the internet for hits for the articles printed earlier, on the phrase which starts: “I spåren av misstron mot kvinnorna som anmält Julian Assange” or in English: “In the wake of the doubt and skepticism directed toward the women who filed charges against Julian Assange” The campaign is also actively spread to for instance England (through mails, blogs, radio for instance BBC with interviews, papers for instance the Guardian), Germany (blogs, papers, television), France, Finland, Norway and others.

The #prataomdet twitter thread.
http://twitter.com/search?q=%23prataomdet

The twitterconversation started here.
http://twitter.com/jocxy?authenticity_token=abe418ae409deafbb2cafb06e2e76913b9f36f04&max_id=27651263550201857&page=54wttr=true

In this thread about the Assange-case overall, news about #prataomdet started at 17th december (later a new thread started only concerning #prataomdet – see below)
https://www.flashback.org/t1275257p1582

This thread is all about the revealing of the #prataomdet campaign (started from the thread above). It contains a lot of in depth digging and a lot of information, amongst others, some of the original twitters and dialogues with some people from the network #prataomdet. A lot to read but worth it.
https://www.flashback.org/t1433249

A webside started by Flashback users with some of the researched material in one place.
http://prataomvad.bloggplatsen.se/

At least 3-4 articles about #prataomdet, and quite a few more about the Assange-case at this blog.
http://oldwolf-vindenviskarmittnamn.blogspot.com/2011/01/prataomdet-en-lyckad.html

http://oldwolf-vindenviskarmittnamn.blogspot.com/2011/01/sanningen-om-prataomdet.html

http://oldwolf-vindenviskarmittnamn.blogspot.com/2011/01/sanningen-om-prataomdet-del-2.html

From the man who gave testimony in the court in London in February. At least 1-2 articles about #prataomdet, and quite a few more about the Assange-case at this blog.
http://www.samtycke.nu/2011/01/det-racker-inte-med-att-prataomdet-vi-maste-forsta-vad-vi-pratar-om/

At least 5 articles, some in English, about #prataomdet, and quite a few more about the Assange-case at this blog.
http://ivanjohnson.wordpress.com/?s=prataomdet

Both in English, among information about #prataomdet, also some of the first twitters from the 14th December are translated, and can be read in a flow.
http://radsoft.net/rants/20110121,00.shtml

http://radsoft.net/news/20110120,01.shtml

Nexso said...

Ringrazio io lei, professore.
Se vogliamo davvero fare qualcosa per Wikileaks, allora dobbiamo combattere stando uniti. Io a tal proposito ho creato una petizione contro la gag di Striscia la notizia. Mi farebbe un enorme piacere se anche lei la firmasse. Non si può tollerare che 2 comici offendano gente come Julian Assange e Bradley Manning che rischiano la morte da un momento all'altro. Ecco il link: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/striscia-la-notizia-contro-wikileaks-striscia-la-notizia-against-wikileaks/
Mi sento solo. Qui in Italia in pochi capiscono l'importanza di questa organizzazione, quasi nessuno in Sicilia da me ma io vado comunque avanti nella mia lotta. Non cerco la notorietà bensì il rispetto verso queste persone e verso il loro duro lavoro. La ringrazio ancora tanto.
Giordano

Marcello Ferrada de Noli (Italy) said...

@ Anonymous (part 1)

I thank you so much for these valuable links. I had some already but others - some important ones - I had not.

I also think that your correction on "Talk about it", referring to the term in fact used in the campaign (instead of “let’s talk about it”, as I have read in some English articles) it is relevant not only for being the actual concept in use, but also because its formulation suggests a rather imperative use, instead of the case of just “inviting” someone to manifest something.

The distinction above has definitely a psychological or social-psychological value. For instance, when one use “command” to elicit catharsis in the person in crisis, in a person battered due to an interpersonal conflict – or of intra psychic character – in which certain traumatic, affective or sexual or other, experiences may be in the background. But not necessarily.

With respect to the last aspect I mentioned above, it is also important to stress that a same experience (meaning similar experiences) can be interpreted, viewed, or felt different according to the person individual psychic-constellation, its own coping-mechanism strategies, personality traits, etc. E.g. an individual may interpret as assault something which is not, or vice versa, something that it is by most people regarded as improper, or offensive, for certain individuals would not be.

Not to mention that the concepts of normal and “weird”, and also to certain extent the concept “pathological”, are ultimately social or cultural determined, in the best of cases. In the worst they can be also determined by religion, fanaticism, or fundamentalist-related moral, such in the case of many Christians dictating the fate of important Swedish legislation. For many of these people “gender” is an alibi for sin. Feminism - as a progressive and necessary ideology - has not been, in my opinion, enough observant or critical regarding the infiltration of religion-fundamentalists in their cohorts.

We have to bear in mind that these people – equipped with the same kind of mentality and behaviour proneness - are those that in the middle ages were the Torquemadas managing the Inquisition, the ones crucifying innocents before finish them in the bonfire. Exactly as you and me at that time we sat and try to figure out how to defend Giordano Bruno or Galileo of similar accusations.

(continue here below)

Marcello Ferrada de Noli (Italy) said...

@ Anonymous (part 2)

Coming back to our quest, the POD campaign. Yes, I have seen the Flashback contributions, and I have been deep impressed. The problem is that the material is apparently spread in different threads, and countless pages. It took me quite some time to advance just a bid in the material, for the reason many things are relevant and informative, and you cannot afford to jump over or miss any single one post. The ideal would be if some investigators in Flashback, a moderator or so, could make summaries of two or three hypotheses which have been central in the forum. That would help.

Secondly, if ALL what is FACT can be listed separately than what is work-hypothesis or assumption (of different levels of credibility, which could also be subject to categorization).

As I said, I thank you genuinely for the material, and I thank the other material I got previously by another site documenting event and sources. Kampen går vidare (la lotta continua) with this issue and I hope we can make some contribution to put the record straight in this apparently manipulation.

Just let me add, as other thoughts keep coming while I reply to you, that the nasty and deplorable thing with the POD campaign is only partly that it had Assange at the center of the aim of their sniper’s rifle.

Perhaps the most ugly thing among all the things in the POD-campaign is that it manipulated true affections, true crises, among Swedish women and men, indulging themselves (the POD organizers, and responsible) in an anti-therapeutic orgy that – believe me on this – at the end made this people, which were manipulated to expose their innermost, felt even worst by knowing that their life-time tragedy was in true only a little tiny minimal segment inside just another link of an enormous corrupted chain, used by these nasty people to enslave the truth of the Assange case.

Cheers Anonymous

Anonymous said...

I'm "anonymous", 4.02pm, who sent you and your readers a lot of information and links to good threads and blogs and articles already written about the revealing of the #prataomdet campaign. Tremendous work has been done by various people, mostly of course in Sweden.

I forgot to write, which actually should go without saying, that material from these websites and so on, can of course not just be "taken/stolen", but need most definitely, as always, to be correctly referenced to (quotes from writers, commentators and links to the websites and so forth).

Thank you!

Marcello Ferrada de Noli (Italy) said...

@ Nexso

Farò il possibile per appoggiare la sua iniziativa.

Marcello Ferrada de Noli (Italy) said...

@ Anonymous 10:55 PM

Certainly!

Sourced as it should be.

May I quote from my article two days ago published in Newsmill.se :

"It should be also recognized that a number of other Swedish journalists and bloggers have reacted differently than those following the official line in the case Assange, and have contributed with critical posts or columns. . . These are nevertheless few in contrast to those in the mainstream media, but their civil courage is highly needed in a society where, as Voltaire said, it is dangerous to be right in those matters on which those in power are mistaken."

I DO recognize your valuable work as well from other bloggers

Thanks again

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your very interesting reply, at 10.42PM!

I'm glad I could be of assistance!

Your last paragraph sums it up perfectly, sad but very, very true.

It also very scary how some journalists and cultural elites together with the MSM can use an individual and his (her) name and organisation to smear and to use it for personal/organisational profit, and in this case it concerns a person who is not convicted and furthermore not even charged with any crime. It is very out of the ordinary in Sweden to reveal the name and face of an accused person and it's not usually done to a larger extent even with convicted persons.

Apart from the #prataomdet campaign, Julian Assange's name has in articles been put alongside the names of two or more of Sweden's historically worst convicted serial rapists and under age/children rapists. And apart from social media, no one reacts. It's a disgrace for Sweden and its people that politicians and MSM and others with influence are allowed to do this, and continuing doing so. It is not worthy of a democracy and a law-binding state.

Just a friendly reminder, don’t forget the hashtag in front om #prataomdet (#talkaboutit), because that is actually how it is written in Sweden, with the hashtag and the rest as one word and no capital letters (even though their website does not have the hashtag, for obvious reasons). The latest box of fact presented in the paper version of Dagens Nyheter the 20th February, p. 4 Kultursöndag, alongside a “prataomdet-article by Malin Ullgren, reads, nowadays after the exposure of the campaign without Julian Assange's name,: “#prataomdet drog igång på Twitter i december förra året. Journalisten Johanna Koljonen skrev om gråzonen mellan frivilligt och påtvingat sex. Hennes berättelse följdes av mängder av vittnesmål om våldtäkter och sexuellt utnyttjande.”

In the article above is maybe the latest event in connection with #prataomdet mentioned, an evening arranged to discuss for instance how to use #prataomdet and its effect in a future political sense, one of the invited persons this evening, 9th February, to speak was the attorney of the two complainants (for more information on that event see for instance http://prataomvad.bloggplatsen.se/)


La lotta continua!

Anonymous said...

Mycket intressant att se hur rättshaverister och foliehattar finns på alla nivåer, och hur dom hoppar fram så fort möjlighet till lite uppmärksamhet finns. Lösryckta påståenden blandas med hemkokta konspirationsteorier och förses med falsk legitimitet mha gamla titlar och akademiska meriter. Om något är en hot mot demokrati och öppenhet så är det bloggar och åsikter som Professorns. Nu får vi se om denna kommentar tar sig förbi censuren.

Dennis Nilsson said...

@Anonymous 1:30 PM

Det är tack vare enträget engagemang under århundradena av de som du felaktigt kallar för "rättshaverister och foliehattar", som du idag kan yttra dig överhuvudtaget.

Citat av Albert Einstein:
"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."