Tax Money Used To Assess Feasibility Of Suing Journalists - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Tax Money Used To Assess Feasibility Of Suing Journalists

Published April 22, 2015

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Screenshot from Kastljós/RÚV

The Interior Ministry paid a private law firm 860,000 ISK to assess the feasibility of suing journalists writing about the Tony Omos Memo Leak Case.

The Interior Ministry, in response to a question posed by MP for the Pirate Party Jón Þór Ólafsson, announced that they paid the LEX law firm a total of 860,000 ISK, Stundin reports. The reason for these payments, in the words of the Ministry itself:

“The counselling [paid for] regarded LEX’s initial assessment on whether media reportage could be actionable as a libel suit. As a result, an assistant of the Interior Minister took the decision to file a libel suit and paid for the cost of it herself.”

The assistant mentioned here is Þórey Vilhjálmsdóttir, who last October announced she was taking DV journalists Jón Bjarki Magnússon and Jóhann Páll Jóhannsson to court for libel, in connection with their reporting on the Tony Omos Memo Leak case.

Initially seeking 3 million ISK in damages and a year in prison, the maximum sentence for libel, DV eventually settled, for 330,000 ISK.

The suit brought criticism from both the International Press Institute and Reporters Without Borders, both citing the case as an example of declining press freedom in Iceland.

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