Monday, October 16, 2006

Sweden Rejects RF Request

Sweden’s Office of the Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern, or JK) has rejected a request by the Russian government to close down the Kavkaz Center website, Dagens Nyheter reported on October 10.

A statement by Kavkaz Center reads as follows:

The Russian efforts to stop the freedom of expression and maintain a news blockade on independent reporting from Caucasus have experienced a new setback. The Chancellor of Justice in Sweden has denied a Russian request to stop Kavkaz Center, which today operates also in Sweden.

In May this year, the prosecutor Håkan Roswall seized the Kavkaz Center’s servers, in order to start investigations about instigation of violence. The prosecutor’s measures were caused by a request from the Russian Embassy in Stockholm. However, Kavkaz Center maintained to reopen the web site within a few days on new server hardware, and brought the case into court. The first result of these court proceedings came a couple of week ago, when the Stockholm city court allowed Kavkaz Center’s representative 1250 Euro as compensation for costs. Also, the prosecutor has given the confiscated servers back to Kavkaz Center.

“This money will be used to invest in even more robust server equipment”, tells Mikael Storsjö who has maintained Kavkaz-Center’s servers. “Our new server may thus be regarded as a gift to Kavkaz Center from the government of Sweden.”

“Anyway, we are going to continue the court proceedings in the Court of Appeal. Seizing our servers was a crime, and obvious reasons related to common order demands us to get the guilty persons convicted.”

The Chancellor of Justice is the sole authority in Sweden who may concern himself with matters regarding freedom of expression. In June, Kavkaz-Center was granted a certificate stating that the web site has so-called constitutional protection under the Constitutional Law of Freedom of Speech. Hence, ordinary prosecutors or any police have no right to concern themselves with any measures against the web site.

Then the Russian Embassy in Stockholm recently filed a new request to the Chancellor of Justice, asking him to stop the web site. The request was accompanied by translations into Swedish of many web pages in Kavkaz-Center.

Last week the Chancellor made his decision not to start any kind of
preliminary investigations in this case. The Chancellor Göran Lambertz stated in his decision, that “the content of these texts cannot, according to my opinion, be regarded as instigation of violence or racial agitation”.

Further, the Chancellor states that crime stipulations in the Constitutional Law of Freedom of Speech, even if such crimes were present, would have the aim to protect the common order in Sweden. Thus Lambertz states, that “instigations [in the press] of crimes in Russia or racial agitation directed against people living there is consequently not punishable here”.

The Russian efforts to stop Kavkaz Center have led to a blind alley in Sweden. This is a true victory for the Freedom of Expression, and obliges us to continue our independent news service in order to cover events in the Islamic world, Caucasus and Russia, with a special focus upon events in the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (C.R.I.).

Kavkaz Center
Department of International Information

(via chechnya-sl)

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