Debate article deleted in the Norwegian electoral campaign

Erik Strand

On Sunday September 8th and Monday September 9th 2013, Norway held parliamentary election. I had the pleasure of being 1st candidate for the Coastal Party in Buskerud county. Of course, I used the opportunity to adress corruption, abuse of power and human rights violations in Norway. Unfortunately, the media in Buskerud did not even print a short letter from me (the newspaper Hallingdølen is an exception). I have written about the case of the local Newspaper Laagendalsposten, which declined to print a letter from me here.

On August 5th, I sent a new letter to a newspaper, this time to the largest local newspaper in the county, Drammens Tidende. Here is the letter, translated into English:

The most important issue in the 2013 election

A growing number of Norwegians experience abuse of power of differnet kinds. This includes people who have their children taken away without sufficient reason, people who are victims of a judicial system without judicial security, and whistleblowers who suffers from retaliations. For an overwiev, I will recommend the organisation Fampo’s website [in Norwegian],

How serious these conditions are, can be exemplified by the Bygdeposten case. In the year 2 000, the local newspaper Bygdeposten published several articles, editorials and letters from the readers concerning shady conditions in Norway. One of the articles was about the fact that the police in the district of Sunnmøre demanded that Kåre Torvholm and Oddmar remøy, both with a clean record, were subject to mental observation. It was later on clear that Torvholm had not posed the treaths with which he was charged. Torvholm was a pioneer in disclosing illegal overfishing in the fishing inbdustry.

In the autumn 2000, the editor was sacked. In the report Ytringsfrihetens pris i Det skjulte Norge [The price of freedom of speech in the veiled Norway], Fampo’s leader Dag Hiåsen documents abuse of the judicial system to endorse the dismissal. In this way, the legal system stopped journalism exposing grave conditions documented by fampo.

In 2004, Fampo presented documentation of these conditions in a meeting with the politcal secretary for then Minister of Justice, Odd Einar Dørum. Fampo was promised a written feedback from the Department of Justice, based on Hiåsen’s report. That never came.

Laagendalsposten [local newspaper in Buskerud] has declined to print a letter about these issues.

August 5th 2013
Erik Strand
1st candidate for the Coastal party in Buskerud

A couple of weeks went by and the letter could not be sen in Drammens Tidende. I then mailed Odd Myklebust, editor for society issues in Drammens Tidende, and asked if the newspaper did not intend to publish my letter. I soon received the following answer from Myklebust:

“Hello. We will not print this letter. People must be free to have any opinion of theirs, but the factual background for the opinions must be somewhat correct, and it is not so in this case. You may ask the editor who was sacked. She will not find your description of this case truthful.”

This is a most telling attempt to justify not publishing a letter from a candidate for parliamentary elections. The Bygdeposten case is a sinister case well documented in Hiåsen’s report. And Myklebust did not make presise what was wrong with the factual background for my letter.

I choose to send a reply to Myklebust and invite him to tell what whas lacking with the factual background of my article, and if he wished so, i would post his answer after a critical article I wrote on about Drammens Tidende declining to publish my letter.

I soon wrote about Drammens Tidende refusng to publish my letter at several websites in Buskerud. One of them belonged tio another newspaper, Ringerikes Blad. A few days later, I saw that my debate article had been removed from Ringerike Blad’s website. Ringerikes Blad removed my posting with the following justification:

“The host in the zone “The reader’s ringblad has found it necessary to delete the article “A refuted letter from the Coastal Party” The reason: the article is temporarily removed because of referral to persons with their names given. We want to check the factual background”.

This is ridiculous. A quick phone call to Fampo’s leader, living not to many miles away, would confirm that the information in my short article was taken from a serious article in Bygdeposten, an article based on official documents. And besides, I had written the same things at Ringerikes Blad’s website before, but that was before I could inform the readers that Drammens Tidende had refuted my letter.