Police detain two journalists on duty in Stockholm
On 3rd June 2022, the global environmental Fridays for Future movement organised a march to demand climate justice and protest climate inaction by political leaders participating in Stockholm +50 conference. The movement started to organise its first climate strike after the COVID-19 restrictions earlier in March 2022 where thousands of young people participated. The group continued to organise strikes on several occasions in Stockholm, demanding the restoration of Sweden’s wetlands and raising awareness on the climate crisis. The authorities intervened and ended the demonstrations after arresting nine climate activists in April 2022.
On 3rd June 2022, Flaman’s journalist Noa Söderberg and freelance photographer and journalist Jonas Gratzer were abducted by the police while reporting on climate action on Västerbron in central Stockholm. Although the journalists explained to the police several times that they were at the place of action to pursue their duty, police took them away from the site of the protest together with nine other activists and searched through their equipment. The journalists alleged that the police questioned them about their sources. According to Ola Österling and Mats Eriksson, spokespersons for the police in Stockholm, the arrests took place as a crime prevention measure as the police could not identify Noa and Jonas as journalists due to the fact that they did not have their press passes. The journalists were eventually released north of Stockholm.
Following the police intervention, the journalist associations in Sweden and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned the police actions in a joint statement. Erik Halkjaer, president of RFS, defined such actions as “a serious threat to the freedom of the press.”
“When journalists are prevented by the police from doing their job, it is a serious threat to the freedom of the press. We see this action mainly in countries with major flaws in democracy”, says Erik Halkjaer, chairman of Reporters without Borders Sweden (RSF Sweden).
In addition, Ulrika Hyllert, president of the Journalists’ Association said:
“If the police's knowledge of journalistic work is this low, we have a major social problem. It is the police's mission to ensure that journalists can carry out their mission, not hinder them in this careless way.”
On 4th July 2022 the Journalists' associations and RSF submitted ajoint report to the Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern) with a view to ensuring proper investigation on the subject and prevent such actions from happening again.