– The outcome will have major consequences for all alternative media outlets and podcasts. The goal is to make us as obedient as the mainstream media, and then the system has won, says Ingrid Carlqvist.
She is prepared to fight and says if there is anything she’s willing to go to prison for, it is freedom of speech. At the same time, there is, of course, a concern, and the legal situation seems unclear. The former podcast duo “Ingrid and Conrad” are prosecuted for failure to appoint a publisher – a Swedish construction where one person, often the editor-in-chief, takes legal responsibility for everything that is written in a newspaper or said on radio or television. To not register a publisher is a violation of the constitution, and can result in a prison sentence, but more likely probation and fines.
The origins of the whole matter and the reason why the Chancellor of Justice took an interest in a small political podcast, are repeated reports made by the left-wing network Juridikfronten. Initially the Chancellor of Justice rejected their complaints, saying that it would probably not be possible to get a conviction, but after much pressure the authority changed its mind.
The main question is – should everyone broadcasting on Youtube, Facebook, Spreaker and other web platforms be forced to appoint a publisher in Sweden? The law that regulates the publisher system was written long before the internet existed and contains old fashioned expressions like “a broadcast where the start time is regulated by the broadcaster”. Freedom of expression expert Nils Funcke has not read the specific indictment, but is in favor of the publisher system:
– It is the basis for the far-reaching freedom of speech we have in Sweden. When you have a publisher, authorities cannot intervene in any way that they like, and individual reporters have greater freedom. It also makes sure that anyone can contact the media and have their anonymity guaranteed by the constitution.
“Interesting to read the verdict”
But Nils Funcke also says that lots of Internet broadcasts fall outside the publisher requirement.
– Forums like Facebook and other unmodified websites have at least so far fallen into the category that each individual is responsible for what they say or write. It will be interesting to read the verdict in this case, because the legal situation is far from given, he says.
Ingrid Carlqvist is convinced that the real reason she is prosecuted is that the state wants to scare and silence dissidents who criticize the Swedish immigration policy. The reason that she and her colleague did not appoint a publisher when they got the first letter from the Chancellor of Justice, was because they were convinced it was a trap. As soon as they appointed someone this person would be prosecuted for controversial things guests on the show might have said.
In 2017, when the whole thing started with letters from the Chancellor of Justice, Ingrid Carlqvist interviewed a number of senior lawyers to find out if this law really concerns podcasters broadcasting on the internet. One of them was Olof Zachrisson, then legal expert at the Ministry of Justice and specialized on issues concerning the Freedom of the Press and the Freedom of Expression Act. She came up with two crucial things:
- She would have nothing to gain from appointing a publisher – no one could promise her she would get constitutional protection prohibiting authorities from investigating sources.
- The law is not adapted to the technological revolution that came with the internet, and thus, is not applicable.
“Wants to silence all criticism”
She put the question to Olof Zachrisson:
Do you agree that it is very unclear whether or not podcasters who broadcast live on Youtube must appoint a publisher?
– Yes, well, I cannot, in any case, say … to you here and now that these rules apply to that kind of broadcast, Zachrisson replied.
Ingrid doesn’t believe she or Conrad has said anything that could be illegal (like hate speech), because then they would already have been prosecuted for those statements – but perhaps one of their many controversial guests did. She is convinced this has been the goal of Juridikfronten all along – to frame them.
– If we are convicted, they will be able to go after other non-PC podcasts as well. I urge everyone who can, to come to the Helsingborg District Court on March 21 at 1 pm, so we can fill the courtroom with people who observe what is happening. What this is ultimately about is that the state wants to silence all criticism, says Ingrid Carlqvist.
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