Independence Party MP Vilhjálmur Árnason, after accusing a journalist of distorting parts of an interview with him, received a very direct response from the journalist in question.
The interview was a part of an article, “She Is The Best Government Minister” (refering to Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir), and was printed last week in the weekly newspaper Reykjavík Vikublað. Conducted by journalist Atli Thor Fanndal, Vilhjálmur was candid about his opinions of the police investigation of the ministry, saying, “These are just lawyers who are driving this issue forward.”
Vilhjálmur added that he supports Hanna Birna “150%”, then downplayed the leak of the Tony Omos memo from the ministry, saying that similar practices are almost universal in Icelandic politics, and therefore he saw no reason to condemn the minister.
“If [there were reason to condemn her], no one in Icelandic politics would have any support,” he said.
Shortly after publication, Vilhjálmur commented on the story on DV’s webpage, disavowing the interview.
“This news is so far from giving the right picture of my conversation with the journalist,” he said. “He had one question, which I answered, and he apparently wasn’t happy because he distorted the rest.”
DV contacted Vilhjálmur, who insisted that the entire interview had been deliberately distorted, not knowing that Atli Thor had already responded to Vilhjálmur’s allegations by uploading his recording of the interview, in full, to Soundcloud. This recording backs up the truthfulness of the original interview – every word Vilhjálmur is quoted as saying is in it.
When Vilhjálmur was informed of the recording being made public, he said he had not meant that breaking the law is acceptable if it is commonplace, nor did he mean that lawyers were “driving the issue forward”. Rather, he said, what he meant was to rhetorically ask where “the organisations and related parties who drive such an issue forward” are.