An Icelandic lawyer has reportedly been blacklisted by Chinese authorities for a critical article he wrote about real estate owned by the Chinese embassy and their handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Vísir reports.
The blacklisting means that Jónas Haraldsson, the author of the article, may not travel to China and could possibly have his assets in China frozen. Gunnar Snorri Gunnarsson, Iceland’s ambassador to China, was informed of this decision on Wednesday, and Jónas was called to a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where he was given the news.
Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Iceland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, told reporters that it was unacceptable to punish people for exercising their freedom of expression in countries where those freedoms are protected.
“I think that to put it politely that it is completely unacceptable to do this to an Icelandic citizen solely for exercising their freedom of speech,” he said. “It is of course unacceptable. We made this clear immediately with Chinese authorities in Beijing and here in Reykjavík.”
Despite this, Guðlaugur Þór does not believe that Chinese authorities are going to change their minds on the matter.
“I want to emphasise that the main issue here is that this is an individual who is just exercising their freedom of speech, and freedom of speech is preserved in Iceland,” he said. “That’s how it is and that’s how it will be. It is of course not a good feeling when we get a message like this.”
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