Second Part: HERE
Update 25 February: The twittering on WikiLeaks by the Foreign Minister of Sweden
After the raid - Mourning a war of lies
Inchiostro di china e Aquarello su carta, Ferrada de Noli 2004
I had not yet dusted off my gloves from having dissected all possible parts of the preposterous and ill-fated “scoop” of yesterday’s Expressen, when I received in my box a series of similar (in purpose) articles published in other Swedish media -- as though from an assembly line.
In the end, the one and only lesson to be drawn from of today's psychosocial anatomy journey became: WikiLeaks is enormously needed. Especially in Sweden.
We really need the truth to be told, the corruption marked, trust in the printed word and honour restored. In other words, this new demonstration of anti-journalism by the Swedish tabloid press brings about no other than a new legitimation of the WikiLeaks message and struggle.
WikiLeaks it is needed more than ever; for only reliable information can cure and prevent decent people of this at times ill-meant, pharisaic journalism which does not represent Swedish professional journalism at large.
In this series a) I review the incongruences in the Expressen article’s content, and as well I comment recent others articles, such as the Svenska Dagbladet article of today 23 February, and the piece authored by the President of the Swedish Publicists' Association in Journalisten.se some days ago [I have already published a comment in Swedish here (Part 1) and here (Part 2)]. Other publications on-line on this issue, such in The Local will be also examined. The easy identification of the common codes and convergent themes in most of these pieces makes the establishment media's anti-WikiLeaks operation self-evident; b) I explain such offensive by the media in the context of a psychological-warfare strategy, that - with focus in a chauvinist heightening of national sentiment - the Swedish government has resorted to in dealing with the WikiLeaks potential; c) I examine the relationships between the discussions of legal procedures of the "case"; the timing in the operation intending to decimate WikiLeaks economically; and the preparations of a most possible further-extradition; d) I explain this case in the context of Sweden foreign-policy commitments towards the US; and e) I suggest a fact-based explanation regarding the causes behind both of the offensives and their deemed collapse.
by Marcello Ferrada-Noli
On the eve of the extraditions judgements in London, the Swedish mainstream media has produced a multiple barrage of articles on WikiLeaks and on the person of its founder, editor and journalist Julian Assange. The offensive, never before assayed with such degree of seemingly coordination or impetus – and which contrasts with a nearly total silence in Sweden on such themes during the past months - was initiated with a piece by the very President of the Swedish Publicists’ Association in Journalist.Se, followed by a remarkable “scoop” in Expressen - in its turn echoed of course by an article in the The Local and of another vilifying piece in an on-line site called Nyheter24. Main quotidian Svenska Dagbladet had articles (1) referring (2) to the Expressen's information.
Indeed, even the state owned National Television, SVT, broadcast on the same day the same untruthful reports, with the very same false details, in the principal news program Rapport. Of course, the National Broadcasting Radio (SR) in the main P1 Channel followed suit. Other Swedish publications – such as Aftonbladet and Dagens Media.se - ensued with an instant echoing of the “news”. Only the dean Dagens Nyheter headed the news adding, “unconfirmed sources”.
The series of articles and broadcasts by this apparently joint operation of the Sate media and mainstream corporative media bear recognizable similar characteristics. Either they refer in the content of the misinformation to non-existent operations ascribed to the organization WikiLeaks, to false and completely made-up statements attributed to the WikiLeaks spokesman, or give an account of events in reference to the current status of the organization WikiLeaks that utterly distort the facts. Unlike previous “scoops” on these issues, a remarkable feature to observe in this present operation is that none of these articles mentioned above have been simultaneously presented in English, indicating that the target of such misinformation bombardment is exclusively the domestic pubic, Sweden. In this regard - viewing such compact media action from a psychosocial perspective - it appears as a classical psychological-warfare operation aimed to strength nationalistic sentiment and domestic support for the authorities in the the case "Sweden VS Assange".
The Sweden = Bildt = Sweden trick
Further, in the centre of such fabricated events, the media campaign positions meticulously the name of Sweden’s former Prime Minister Carl Bildt, now the minister of Foreign Affairs, portraying him – in that role – as a victimized figure of invented “WikiLeaks” upcoming attacks. There was not a single word about him being an unpopular politician among many Swedes nowadays, this judging from the fact his resignation has been repeatedly demanded through – for Sweden, unusual - people's public demonstrations --actually been held in the main cities of Sweden.
If there were any doubt about the orchestrated features in this "for the Nation" campaign (actually made-up on behalf of troubled right-wing Nation's politicians), the right-wing Foreign Minister Carl Bildt Tweeted from London while the machines that printed right-wing Expressen in Stockholm were still warm:
Update 25 February: The twittering on WikiLeaks by the Foreign Minister of Sweden
Please note that Carl Bildt formulates the text above a) using "they" instead of "Expressen"; seemingly, deliberately omitting it is in fact Expressen the source creating, writing, and publishing about “smear campaign”, b) following, the reader is misleading to conclude that "they" is referred to the organization WikiLeaks.
In the first place because such Twitter user presents himself as Foreign Minister of Sweden (see image at right, from Twitter); instead of giving, for instance, his private academic title. The situation described here would signify that Carld Bildt is messaging on behalf of the Government of Sweden. Situation for me previously unknown. It is like if I, instead of saying in my Twitter presentation I am Professor Emeritus or PhD in Psychiatry, I would benefit my personal opinions by stating that I am a Scientific Member of the Swedish Ethical Committee for Research (in fact I am, in Uppsala), which is an appointment given to my by the Swedish Government. It is not my private academic title.
Secondly, because such Foreign Minister of Sweden would be, apparently, deceivingly giving the impression to his 101 756 Tweetter followers (and the public, particularly the Swedish public) that WikiLeaks would have plans such organization would describe as "a smear campaign against Sweden". And this would be simply slander. And this would make a respectable Foreign Minister of Sweden a simple Internet slander spreader.
And all that makes in fact WikiLeaks the target of such campaigns from the part of the Foreign Minister of Sweden; and not the other way around, as seemingly the Foreign Ministry of Sweden intend the Swedish people to believe.
The fact described above makes further Tweets on the issue by Foreign Minister Carl Bildt equally outrageous. He asks now in a provocative manner, when, or if, or whether WL would “dare” to release the “smear campaign” “against Sweden”Alleged by whom? This is something the Foreign Minister of Sweden should be asking Expressen, since it is Expressen and NOT WikiLeaks which have come our to the public with such asseverations. But of course Bildt – and/or the strategists behind him entirely know this. They are of course not directing their tweets to Wikileaks; they are really twittering to the gallery, in fact they are addressing the Swedish public. Following, Bildt publishes the same day of the Expressen's "scoop" (22 February) in his blog a post in Swedish he headed "Smutskastningskampanj" ("Smear campaign") pointing out that the "target" is Sweden. And he quotes the Expressen article, “Wikileaks planning massive smear campaign against Sweden" ("WL planerar en massiv smutskastningskampanj mot Sverige”). And so the reader is referred to the Expressen article where – already in the heading – it is announced that the campaign has as main target: Carl Bildt!
xWhy would the Swedish establishment's media indulge in such an ostensibly desperate operation? What does this have to do with the psychological-warfare design of the Swedish authorities in managing the PR crisis of Sweden, looking for scape-goats regarding the poor management of the "Assange case"? These items will be treated further in this series. In the meantime the reader is referred to This is Why.
The made-up "smear campaign" summarized
The sensationalist weight in the false scoop is placed in the following: “According to sources in WikiLeaks”, “corroborated by the organization spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson”, “the organization WikiLeaks plans to launch a damaging massive smear attack against Minister Carl Bildt, and against Swedish institutions”. “WikiLeaks organization against the Kingdom of Sweden”
Dagens.se summarized in “WikiLeaks wages war against Sweden” [Wikileaks tar strid mot Sverige] what this alleged “campaign from Wikileaks" would consist of:
- "Releasing a document disclosing Foreign Minister Carl Bildt as a U.S. informer"
- "Releasing of other documents regarding the Swedish Government"
- "Widespread campaign for the boycotting of Swedish products"
- "Actions against Swedish embassies and consulate offices"
These are instead the facts:
The resignation of Bildt has been repeatedly demanded through Swedish people's public demonstrations during the last month -- in fact, several anti-Bidt demonstrations have been held in the main cities of Sweden. Would Expressen imply that it is WikiLeas the organizer of such massive protests?
Manoeuvrings of the right-wing media such as these of Expressen, Svenska dagbladet and of the Sate Television - aimed to bring trough fake means national support to an alleged "Bildt, victim of a slander attack" - will not rescue him from the criticism of the Swedish public or international opinion.
No such statement has been given to Expressen or any other media by WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson or, for that matter, by any WL official. This was firmly and clearly stated by Wikileaks the very same day of Expressen’s false scoop, February 23, 2012. Quote:
Kristinn Hrafnsson is - to the best of my knowledge - the only official spokesperson of WikiLeaks. There is no spokesperson of WikiLeaks in Sweden. Kristinn Hrafnsson has never been in Sweden.
To the best of my analysis, the organization WikiLeaks led by editor and journalist Julian Assange is not behind any hostile action, or preparations for such alleged hostile actions against Sweden, its government, its people, products, etc. Swedish journalists should be instead very carefully in distinguishing between independent supporters and the organization WikiLeaks. Only official spokespersons for WikiLeaks can speak for WikiLeaks. The rest is purely slander and hearsay.
The organization WikiLeaks has never been known for managing internal communications by means of “internal memos” or documents of that kind. If so, that would have been divulged long time ago by so-called conspicuous former members of middle directive ranks in the organisation. It is important to remember that the Swedish press and state media have already exhausted all means of getting information from those individuals, who have been interviewed extensively by the Swedish media.
Julian Assange has never refused to comply with any request of interrogation from the Swedish prosecutors. He did not “flee” Sweden. He has been available for such questioning all the time he was in Sweden, as well as now in London. He is not a fugitive. In fact he is currently under arrest -. And has been under arrest for approximately 500 days at the request of the Swedish authorities.
Regarding the “Assange case”, the only people constantly embarrassing Sweden and spoiling its international reputation are some heartless Swedish politicians, some unprofessional journalists, and some biased investigators intervening in the legal process.
According to tradition
According to a well-established tradition, Expressen launched to day its customary scoop for the season. And for us to keep this notorious tradition in mind, Expressen reminds in the box beside a list with the previous, equally dubious, false-scoops.
Regarding previous of such "scoops" (number 2 in the list above by Expressen):
Expressen - which is a right-wing tabloid of the Swedish establishment's press - convinced the world in March 2011 it had a breaking-news “scoop” in the Assange case. The paper reported that the police officer Irmeli Krans who interrogated one of the Assange-accusers was a friend of the main accuser-instigator Anna Ardin. However, everybody who cared to read the proceedings of the police investigation already knew this fact. So it was simply one of the many irregularities in the case ignored by the mainstream Swedish media, much like the continuing cover-up of the rigged documentary about Julian Assange broadcast the State-owned National Television, SvT 1.
So the question remains why Expressen would have decided to publish “the scoop”. Professors blogg's interpretation is simple.
Expressen's so called "scoop" No2 it was apparently made-up in such fashion to create an alibi, an exception, within an overall cover-up that otherwise is performed by the Swedish mainstream media in regard to the Assange affair.
The trick consisted in showing now "anti-official", "critical investigative journalism", through "breaking news" but referred to facts already known by the legal teams and prosecutor of the case, and therefore in no possible way it would alter the course of events.
Why? The story broke at a time when the Swedish-media behaviour had been the focus of worldwide attention because of the Assange verdict in London ordering his extradition. Further, the only element admitted by Judge Riddle regarding the Assange’s defence right was the judge’s reference to the hostility against Assange from the Swedish press. This was also the main content of my witness report submitted by Assange's lawyers to the London court, which was based in research summarized in Newsmill ("Professor: Medierapporteringen om Assange är osaklig och likriktad") and published in full text here in Professors blogg ("Does Sweden Inflict Trial by Media against Assange?").
Professors blogg's alibi-hypothesis also derives support from the fact that Expressen published its “scoop” simultaneously in English – which is very unusual for Expressen and most others in the Swedish media, This would mean that a primarily goal was to counteract international opinion.
Expressen "reporting" from the Foreign Ministry
When it comes to the Assange/WikiLeaks case, the poor quality of journalistic professionalism Expressen exercises in reporting events by the right-wing government - - has been evident since the beginning. Consider, for instance, the following piece, “Assange: I am the only victim”, authored by Expressen’s journalist Oscar Joulander. In the article, the journalist reports an interview he had with Anders Jörle, the press secretary of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs -- headed by -yes- Carl Bildt.
Jörle states, according to Expressen:
- “They (U.S.) have not been in contact with us (Foreign Ministry) through the official channels”.
The journalist concludes in the article:
- “At the Swedish Foreign Office it is denied than they have been contacted by the USA”.
End of 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 either does not care to or think to ask or, perhaps, he did but the newspaper would not print that portion of the article. We cannot know. What we do know is that in either case the journalist is NOT doing his professional job, and that is what this article in Professors blogg is also about.
Similarly as above, the main part of contacts that led to the agreements of the Swedish government with the U.S. have been handled through unofficial channels. The reason for using unofficial channels, for instance in the case of extraordinary renditions to U.S. of arrested individuals in Sweden (operations for which Sweden received sanctions by UN for violations of the Absolute Ban on Torture) - is that, if those contacts are labelled “official”, the government would be obliged to inform the Parliament, with the ensuing risk of the talks entering the public domain.
Asking the source for confirmation?
For many Scandinavians, the Finnish President Mauno Koivisto will always be remembered for his wise, dignified and staunch opposition to a vassal NATO membership. Yet, for many journalists, he will be remembered for his irritation over the constant interpretations about his statements on the issue. Eventually, the publication Political Journalists (Politiikan toimittajat) report “1984 President Koivisto forbidden journalists to interpret his speech and statements”. I remember he said, approximately, “Why do journalists keep saying ‘we think the President said’ this or that. Why not ask me instead? Only I can best interpret what I have actually said,” He concluded short and eloquently, in the fashion of the great Finns.
Yet in the above example of statements on foreign policy situations, it was a matter of what Finnish journalists have interpreted about statements been made. Some Swedish journalists instead do not even worry about interpretations; No, no, they will go straight to making up suitable statements.
And if people would ask the journalists, as they surely have been asked during all this day, 21 of February, what the WikiLeaks spokesman would have meant with “launching a smear campaign against Sweden Carl Bildt”, they had already printed their answer, “we do not need to, we have a source . . .”
There are not such sources from within WikiLeaks. That has to be stated clearly.
And Swedish mainstream media have to make up their minds. Either - as they say to the Swedish readers - WikiLeaks has become a poor organization, abandoned by all and with no money, etc., and - as they say - nearly every staff has left Julian Assange; and, as they say, no one is whistleblowing for WikiLeaks any longer. In this case there are no funds for such campaigns, no manpower to operate them, no new secrets to disclose because there are no new secrets, and no secret source-individuals left at the top for sharing strategies with “friendly” Expressen. As we say in Sweden, eller hur? (n'est-ce pas? or what?).
In fact and truth the above description about WikiLeaks is purely argumentative; it is not the real situation of WikiLeaks, at all. The support for their struggles remains unabated, as do sympathies for its founder Julian Assange.
End of Part One
Continues in Second Part: HERE
The post continues with the analysis of the article in Journalist.Se, as well of an article in The Local and another vilifying piece . Also the issue of the Psychological warfare design in the Swedish case against WikiLeaks. Check for updates later!
Wikileaks, J Assange, Assange, yttrandehefrihet, tryckfrihet, transperans, tryckfrihet, wikileaks, intressant, pressetik
PS. A note at the side: This operation, appealing to national sentiments of the Swedish people against “Sweden’s chief enemy” WikiLeaks is brought up (a coincidence from Heavens?) in a fortunate timing with the birth in these days of the new heir for the Swedish monarchy. And as Expressen boasted being first on the “scoop” “WikiLeaks attacking the Swedish Nation”, arch-rival in the tabloid market Aftonbladet boasted almost simultaneously being the first announcing the birth of the new Nation’s Princess.
I wish to thank Traci Birge for the proofreading of the manuscript.