Interior Minister assistant Gísli Freyr Valdórsson has confessed to leaking the memo on Tony Omos to select members of the media, and has been subsequently fired.
RÚV reports that, according to a statement from Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, Gísli requested a meeting with her this afternoon. He is currently standing trial in the case of the Tony Omos memo, a document on the Nigerian asylum seeker which, apart from containing misleading and false information, was sent to select members of the media in November 2013.
According to Hanna Birna’s statement, Gísli personally confessed to her – the day before Hanna Birna herself was to testify at his trial – that he was the one who leaked the memo, despite his repeated assertions of innocence over the past year – at times even casting aspersions on Ministry cleaning staff as a possible source of the leak.
The Minister said she was surprised, but felt she had to make the unfortunate choice to let him go, saying in addition that the leak case has “cast a months-long shadow over the operations of the Ministry”, in addition to his actions constituting a violation of trust against his co-workers and supervisors.
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, mbl.is 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.
It is unclear what lies next for Gísli Freyr. The charge he faces is breach of confidentiality. According to Article 36 of the Law on Privacy and the Treatment of Personal Information, violating this law can carry up to three years in prison.
However, Hanna Birna is not exactly off the hook, either. The Law on Ministerial Responsibility states that Ministers bear full responsibility for all the actions of the Ministry itself. Violations which occur under a Minister’s watch can carry a sentence of up to two years in prison.
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