From Iceland — It's Bad, But It's Not That Bad: Correcting Snowden

It’s Bad, But It’s Not That Bad: Correcting Snowden

Published September 19, 2017

It’s Bad, But It’s Not That Bad: Correcting Snowden
Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Johann/ Commons

Make no mistake, the events leading up to the collapse of the Icelandic government are truly horrific. They reveal a high level of secrecy, corruption and arrogance of power that led to everything falling apart. But there are still some misconceptions about how bad things really were.

Case in point: famed whistleblower Edward Snowden posted a couple tweets last Friday which sort of misrepresented what actually happened. So we’d like to clear the air.

On September 15, Snowden tweeted:

He later tweeted:

This is sort of the case, but not exactly.

The Prime Minister’s father, Benedikt Sveinsson, signed a letter vouching for convicted rapist Hjalti Sigurjón Hauksson’s character. From there, the Ministry, with the approval of the President, granted what is effectively a restoration of civil standing despite his conviction. The Prime Minister knew about this last July, but kept this information largely to himself because, as he explained at a press conference, the Ministry had told him this was sensitive information that could not be made public. Further, Hjalti is not a friend of the Justice Minister or the Prime Minister, but Benedikt and Hjalti have known each other for years, and Benedikt reportedly even visited him in prison. Also, “restored honour” does not expunge your record, but you do have your civil standing restored. So for all intents and purposes, it’s a lot like having your criminal record expunged, but not really.

So yes, this case is gross, in every way. And it’s easy to get mixed up in what the facts are. But facts are still important.

In fairness, Snowden did get a lot of things right. For example:

And then there’s this:

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

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