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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Monday, 26.10.2020, 12:29

European journalists' associations back makers of Estonia ferry sinking documentary series

BC, Tallinn, 15.10.2020.Print version
The Estonian Association of Journalists along with Nordic journalists' associations and the European Federation of Journalists expressed support for the statement of the Swedish Union of Journalists in defense of the makers of the documentary series that investigated the 1994 sinking of the MS Estonia ferry, informs LETA/BNS.

The board of the Estonian Association of Journalists is of the opinion that the persecution of investigative journalists is not compatible with the European cultural sphere.

The new documentary series about the sinking of MS Estonia has received a lot of attention and before the series was broadcast in Estonia, Prime Minister Juri Ratas publicly called for a new investigation of the wreck.

"It is clear that the information provided in the documentary is of great and widespread interest. The fact that the film crew has documented at least one four-meter hole in the wreck is not the only one that supports the film's publication from a journalistic point of view. At the same time, two people involved in the film, journalist Henrik Evertsson and the operator of the underwater drone Linus Andersson, have been charged. The Swedish authorities also tried to confiscate the film. However, this did not happen because the footage was stored in Germany. The film crew refused to release the material and the German authorities decided not to support Sweden's demands," the association said in its statement.

The journalists' associations believe that it is not reasonable to completely ban dives to the wreck if the aim is to find out exactly what happened. "Freedom of opinion and the right to information must be weighed against the damage that a journalistic investigation into a wreck can cause. In this case, there is a great public interest in information. The information collected is important because it provides the authorities with new information about the accident. The fact that Sweden is prosecuting journalists who have gathered information of great public interest is contrary to both Swedish and international law," the associations said.

Sweden's decision to criminalize "diving and other underwater activities" inside and around MS Estonia is behind the prosecution and attempted confiscation of material. The wreck is located in international waters and it is not clear whether Sweden's Estonia law is in fact in line with international law. However, even if the court were to declare Swedish law applicable, there are many grounds against conviction.

The statement was signed by Ulrika Hyllert, president of the Swedish Union of Journalists, Hege Iren Frantzen, president of the Norwegian Union of Journalists, Arne Jensen, secretary general of the Association of Norwegian Editors, Petri Savolainen, head of advocacy of the Union of Journalists in Finland, Helle Tiikmaa, chair of the Estonian Association of Journalists, Tine Johansen, vice president of the Danish Union of Journalists, and Mogens Blicher Bjerregard, president of the European Federation of Journalists.

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