From Iceland — Questions Arise Over Interior Ministry's Announcement

Questions Arise Over Interior Ministry’s Announcement

Published November 25, 2013

Both legal experts and former government employees have raised questions about an announcement from the ministry over a recent leak concerning an asylum seeker facing deportation.
As reported, Nigerian asylum seeker Tony Omos is facing deportation, and is currently in hiding from the police. Last week, “unofficial ministry documents” given to members of the press stated that Tony was suspected of being involved in human trafficking and is not the father of the child being carried by his girlfriend, Evelyn Glory Joseph.
Not only did these accusations prove untrue – the “unofficial ministry documents” do not exist within ministry files. An assistant to Interior Minister Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir (above), Gísli Freyr Valdórsson, speculated that a ministry employee may have created the documents themselves, later clarifying that he did not intend to impugn the ministry staff.
A statement from the ministry claims that “nothing indicates that these documents were handed out from an Interior Ministry official,” adding that “all official documents in these cases are confidential and are treated as such.”
However, former government employees and a lawyer DV spoke with raised their own concerns about the ministry’s contentions.
“Leaks like this always serve some kind of purpose,” said one former government employee. “In this case, it’s obvious that the purpose is to help draw attention away from Hanna Birna.”
A lawyer that DV spoke to said that the ministry’s word choice in saying that no documents were released by a ministry official caught his attention immediately, pointing out that the word “official” was specifically used, not “employee” – the implication being that no one who was politically elected or appointed to office was involved, while not ruling out that an employee was.
A former employee of the Prime Minister’s office underscored the lawyer’s remarks, saying, “Ministerial assistants are not ministerial officials, and whoever wrote the [ministerial announcement] knows this.” He contends that with this word choice, the decision was taken to not confirm whether ministerial assitants leaked the information.
The minister’s other assistant, Þórey Vilhjálmsdóttir, has not yet responded to questions from DV on the matter.

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