From Iceland — Journalist Undaunted By Lawsuit From Rich And Powerful

Journalist Undaunted By Lawsuit From Rich And Powerful

Published May 16, 2011

A journalist for state broadcasting service RÚV says that the lawsuits against him from two wealthy Icelandic businessmen is an attempt to scare other journalists away from investigating shady business practices.
Svavar Halldórsson, a journalist for RÚV, is currently facing lawsuits from Pálmi Haraldsson and Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, who have accused him of slander. While the lawsuits are separate, they both revolve around a story about Panamanian real estate company Pace Associates Corp. Svavar contends that the company accepted a 3 million ISK loan from the two businessmen as well as Hannes Smárason, and that the money in turn went right back to them. The case is being tried in Reykjavík District Court.
Speaking to DV, Svavar appeared unflappable. “I am utterly calm about this, because it centres around a news piece that was completely true,” he said. “First and foremost, they’re trying to scare me and other journalists away from covering this story.”
He pointed out that winning two or three million off of him will not have any real effect on either man, who are wealthy enough for the money not to make a difference. Rather, Svavar contends, they are protecting their reputations.
This is not the first time Svavar has been in court for slander. Last March, he and journalist María Sigrún Hilmarsdóttir were acquitted for slander in a case again launched by Pálmi Haraldsson, over a news piece that bore the title “Billions up in smoke”.

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