From Iceland — Interior Minister Assistant On Trial

Interior Minister Assistant On Trial

Published September 19, 2014

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by

One of the Minister of the Interior’s assistants is currently on trial for his part in the leak of a memo about asylum seeker Tony Omos.

Gísli Freyr Valdórsson, a former assistant to Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, was charged with breach of confidentiality and relieved of his position last August. He is now on trial in Reykjavík District Court, and the matter is already proving contentious.

Vísir points out that even while no longer employed at the Ministry and currently standing trial, Gísli Freyr is still receiving a full salary.

“This kind of comes out of nowhere, I have to say,” Snorri Magnússon, the director of the Police Federation of Iceland, told reporters. “When it comes to police officers [on trial], they receive half their base salary.”

The Ministry of the Interior oversees the police force, underlining the inconsistency.

Gísli Freyr’s defence has put forward some interesting arguments. DV reports that a statement signed by Gísli Freyr’s attorney, Ólafur Garðarsson, argues that the release of the memo does not constitute a breach of confidentiality, as many people had already read it by the time it was sent to select members of the press. Further more, the attorney asked why janitorial staff at the Ministry have not been questioned by police over the matter, arguing that it is conceivably possible that someone printed the memo and left it on a desk, only for it to be taken by a member of the cleaning staff and subsequently leaked.

As reported, the evidence against Gísli Freyr is damning. According to police investigations, a Ministry employee named simply “B” (later confirmed to be Gísli Freyr), reportedly searched for the memo in question on their computer on the evening of November 19, at 18:46 and 22:20. Police found that when the computer was turned off that evening, the notice “Do you want to save changes you made to [A],” referring to the memo, popped up on the screen.

At 18:40 and 22:43 that same evening, B phoned an employee of the news outlet Vísir, and called again an additional three times that same evening. B then allegedly called newspaper Morgunblaðið the following morning. Hours later, published their story, referring to an Interior Ministry document, and Fréttablaðið made the accusations against Tony Omos front-page news on November 20. These accusations would later prove false or misleading.

Gísli Freyr maintains that he is innocent of the charges against him.

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