From Iceland — Icelandic Police Forced To Pay Damages To Protesters They Spied On And Libelled Against

Icelandic Police Forced To Pay Damages To Protesters They Spied On And Libelled Against

Published October 12, 2018

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Grapevine Archives

Yesterday, in Reykjavík District Court, the Icelandic government admitted fault and paid damages to two protesters targeted by an infamous report on the 2008-2009 protests written by former Chief Superintendant of the Police Geir Jón Þórisson and released to the media in 2014. This was revealed in detail in a statement issued from the police to the Icelandic media.

As reported, Geir Jón’s report, entitled “Summary of the structure of the police with protests from 2008 to 2011”, was found in 2015 to have violated Iceland’s privacy laws. The report included, at times, the political opinions police suspected of participants in the protests, their family connections and their supposed state of mental health. They also listed not only the names but also other personal information on numerous protesters, and included allegations against some of them that proved to be false.

The statement says in part that the court also found that the report violated privacy laws. In addition, they could find no material reason for the report to have been made, let alone released to the public. Most compelling is that Geir Jón could not provide material evidence for many of the incidents alleged to have occurred in the report.

As such, two of the protesters—Snorri Páll Jónsson and Steinunn Gunnlaugsdóttir—were each awarded 500,000 ISK in damages, in addition to 584,600 ISK for legal expenses, on account of sensitive and personal information about the two that was released in Geir Jón’s report.

When objections to Geir Jón’s report were first raised, he contended that the report was “just a summary of everything that was already in police records”, and that “if police cannot compile their own data in a police report, then all police reports are illegal.”

However, the contention that political opinions and family connections are just a normal part of a police report seems to contradict statements made earlier that police do not keep records of such information. The police, in fact, paid special attention to anarchists, following their movements and compiling a large amount of personal information on them.

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