A small Victory for free speech in Sweden

Migration Board firing of pro- Israel blogger ‘violated constitution’

The Local

Sweden’s Parliamentary Ombudsman (Justitieombudsmannen – JO) has rapped the Migration Board (Migrationsverket) over its controversial reassignment of Lennart Eriksson, an employee who had voiced pro-Israeli opinions on his personal blog.

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    The action taken against Eriksson constituted a violation of his freedom of speech – and freedom of opinion, according to the Ombudsman.

    “The constitutional protection of freedom of speech means that, amongst other things, the public may not take action against any individual who has exercised their freedom of speech. There are no grounds for an exception in this case,” the Ombudsman wrote.

    In 2007, Eriksson was reassigned following a decision by his new supervisor, Eugène Palmér, who objected to Eriksson’s pro-Israeli opinions and vocal admiration for the US army general George S. Patton.

    Palmér suggested that, given Patton’s “broken loyalties to his superiors,” significant doubts had been raised as to Eriksson’s trustworthiness.

    In accordance with Palmér’s decision, Eriksson was first reassigned, and later fired.

    The Ombudsman has openly criticized Eriksson’s boss, asserting that “there were no legally viable grounds for the course of action Eugène Palmér decided upon.”

    Building upon the ombudsman’s critique, Eriksson has also pointed the finger at the Director General for the Migration Board, Dan Eliasson.

    “In light of the JO’s decision, the government should now dismiss Dan Eliasson. No administrative authority should have a boss who allows for violations of the constitution,” Eriksson wrote on his blog.

    The Mölndal District Court ruled in November of last year that Eriksson’s demotion was invalid and that the Migration Board should pay damages in the amount of 100,000 kronor ($14,200).