Swedish Parliament Approves Constitutional Amendment Limiting Freedom of the Press

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - NOVEMBER 16: A general view of parliament hall as 270 deputies voted "yes" and 37 deputies voted "against" in the parliamentary vote for the constitutional amendment that tightens the laws on anti-terrorism. 42 deputies did not participate in the constitutional amendment, which was opposed by the Left …
Atila Altuntas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Swedish parliament has approved a constitutional amendment to criminalise foreign espionage and disclosure of secret information, limiting what the press may report on certain subjects.

The constitutional amendment seeks to make foreign espionage, aggravated foreign espionage, and disclosure of secret information in international cooperation criminal offences and will affect both freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Sweden.

The new changes could see journalists and others, such as whistleblowers, prosecuted for disclosing secret information that may damage Sweden’s relationship with other countries or international organisations, broadcaster SVT reports.

Former Swedish prime minister Magdalena Andersson, the leader of the Social Democrats, stated her support for the amendment saying, “It’s a gap that we have in our legislation and that we need to close. It is about national security.”

Mikael Ruotsi, senior lecturer in constitutional law at Uppsala University who worked on the bill, claimed that it was unlikely journalists would be prosecuted under the constitutional changes, noting that there are existing laws on publishing secret information and these have rarely been applied to media.

But Nils Funcke, a free speech expert, has warned that any changes to freedom of expression and freedom of the press should be proportionate.

“There should be some fine surgery in this. It should not be that you introduce a provision that strikes very broadly, but it should just tackle the problem that you have identified and documented,” he said.

The new law comes as Sweden faces one of the largest espionage cases in recent history after two Iranian-born brothers were charged with spying and handing over secret information to the Russian military intelligence agency GRU.

The older brother worked in the Swedish Security Police (Sapo), Swedish military intelligence, and the Office for Special Acquisition (KDI), a secretive intelligence branch that recruits spies and informants from other countries.

The younger brother, meanwhile, allegedly had contact with Russian intelligence and is accused of organising payments for information.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com.


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