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Assange: Shutting Down a Swedish FOI Site
How free is information in Sweden?
STOCKHOLM (Rixstep) — Active for the past fifteen months and publishing bewildering numbers of Swedish government documents obtained through the country's freedom of information legislation, Under Mattan ('Under the Rug') was finally swept under the rug on 9 December 2012.
The proprietors have attempted to contact their service provider ever since but in vain. No warning was given and no explanation has been forthcoming.
Sweden versus Assange
'Under the Rug' published all sorts of documents relating to many different Swedish controversies, but recently it's been the deluge of documents in the 'Sweden versus Assange' case that have dominated. The release last week of telling transcripts of SMS messages to and from the office of Marianne Ny might have been the 'last straw'.
The proprietors of 'Under the Rug' prepared the following press statement.
Press Statement from Undermattan.com
The free Swedish political website and blog Undermattan.com was shut down on Sunday 9 December 2012, most likely at the request of Swedish authorities.
The shutdown occurred in the middle of the night without prior warning or subsequent explanation. The site had been active for 15 months and never before been the subject of a complaint.
The reason for this completely unacceptable and scandalous violation of fundamental Swedish law is still not forthcoming.
'We the proprietors of Undermattan.com are starting to detect the stench of Germany of the 1930s.'
The service providers at Blog.com have deliberately made themselves inaccessible, refusing to return calls or reply to email inquiries. We must assume this is also at the request of Swedish authorities.
When websites and blogs in China, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt are shut down by totalitarian regimes, the media often react with revulsion at such undemocratic measures.
How Swedish journalists will react to this press statement will show everyone in our country where Swedish media stand on the question of freedom of information. We're not holding our collective breath.
As we all know, censorship is common when dictatorships want to keep 'dangerous' information from the people - information that the dictatorships feel threatened by. The opposite of censorship is freedom of information. And many people believe we have freedom of information in Sweden.
But our site Undermattan.com has just demonstrated that we have censorship in Sweden. Swedish authorities shut down our site and refuse to say why - just like they do in China.
We're of course rather flattered that our government felt so threatened that they're now prepared to make the country an international laughing stock and be regarded as the new Taliban of the Internet.
Swedish governmental authorities subsidise neo-Nazi websites for millions each year.
'Under the Rug' is the diametric opposite, an antiracist, anti-nazi site against war, violence, and hate propaganda. Our site was rich in investigative materials - about, for example, the case of Julian Assange. These documents were read by people from all over the world.
We are not subsidised by the Swedish government and therefore have the freedom to investigate and criticise EVERYONE.
If you're a journalist and you think it's a GOOD THING that Swedish authorities shut down websites, and think it's a BAD THING that dictatorships do the same thing - then you don't need to do a thing.
Otherwise we'd appreciate it if you checked this story out.
'Under the Rug' used the tool 'Creeper' to watch who was visiting the site. Reports from earlier this year are still available.
Amongst the most frequent and honoured guests:
- 'Riksdagen' - Swedish parliament
- 'Rikspolisstyrelsen' - National police board
- 'Försvarsmakten' - Swedish Armed Forces
- 'Försvarshögskolan' - National Defence College
- 'Fortifikationsverket' - National Fortifications Administration
- 'Kriminalvården' - Swedish Prison and Probation Authority
- 'Skatteverket' - Tax authority
- 'Domstolsverket' - Court authority
- 'Försvarets Materielverk (FMV)' - Swedish Defence Materiel Administration
- 'Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut (FOI)' - Swedish Defence Research Agency