Background: “Over the past five years, up to September 2007, Lennart Eriksson served as manager of an asylum assessment unit. On his return from a year-long leave of absence during which he completed his doctoral thesis, he was immediately called to a meeting with the newly appointed operational manager. The manager informed Eriksson that he had seen his website and that Lennart Eriksson’s Conservative views were both “unusual” and controversial. The manager was particularly opposed to Lennart Eriksson’s support for Israel and the USA and his online description of WW2 US general George Patton as one of the heroes of the Second World War. Lennart Eriksson was then summarily informed that he had been demoted.
In response, Lennart Eriksson sued the Swedish Migration Board in county court. Eriksson’s view is that he has in practice been fired from his job as asylum assessment unit manager, camouflaged in the form of a transfer. Lennart Eriksson feels that whatever the final legal outcome regarding the terminology – demotion or transfer – there is no cause for this move. The Migration Board confirms that Lennart Eriksson has been transferred as a result of the opinions he expressed on his private website. Opinions that are not against anything, but rather for certain beliefs – Conservative politics and democratic countries, specifically Israel and the USA.”
This is the state that Sweden finds itself in today. Vocal support for democracies can get a conservative government employee into hot soup with his supervisors. Apparently for Swedish officials, being pro-Israel and pro-American is such an “unusual” and controversial” behavior for any government employee to be exhibiting, that it automatically renders the offending person to the status of a deviant.
Ilya Meyer: “I don’t know if you remember the case of the employee of the Swedish Migration Board who was in effect sacked/demoted because he wrote on his private website and in his own private time that Israel is a democracy. Well, his case is coming to court next week, and I’ve written the following press release which I would be very grateful if you could publicise far and wide in every network at your disposal, time and energy permitting.”
The Tundra Tabloids thanks Ilya Meyer for the scoop, and will do its best to ensure that it gets the widest amount of coverage possible. Anyone demoted, or worse, fired, for supporting Israel, America or the late US general George Patton, deserves the greatest amount of support possible. Lennart Eriksson is both a friend of Israel and the US, a hero and a mensch! Unsual and controversial indeed! KGS
COURT CASE FOR SWEDE EXERCISING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
The Swedish Migration Board is in court pursuing a claim against an employee charged with being a Conservative who also wrote favourable comments on his private website about the US and Israel as pillars of democracy. The Swedish Migration Board feels that Conservatives and people who express themselves favourably about these two countries are not fit to hold a unit management position.
Lennart Eriksson, 52, has worked at the Swedish Migration Board, Göteborg, Sweden in various capacities for more than 20 years. In October 2007 he was ousted from his job as unit manager. The reasons are twofold: because he ran a website on the Internet in which he gave his opinions on various issues, and because he is a Conservative in his personal political affiliations.
Political views dictated to employees
On his website, which his employers knew about for many years, Eriksson voiced appreciation of the US and Israel as examples of thriving democracies. He also praised US general George Patton as a hero of World War Two. Eriksson has never spent work-time on his website and he has never used his work computers for this purpose. Neither do his employers contend that he ever did so.
Lennart Eriksson sued the Swedish Migration Board in Mölndal county court, Göteborg. He maintains he has in effect been fired from his job as asylum assessment unit manager, camouflaged in the form of a demotion or transfer. Lennart Eriksson feels that whatever the terminology, there is no legal or justifiable cause for the move. The Migration Board confirms that Lennart Eriksson has been transferred as a result of the opinions he expressed on his private website.
Trial venue and dates
The main hearing will take place on Friday October 10 and Monday October 13, 2008, starting at 09:00 on both days. The court’s address is: Mölndals tingsrätt, Södra Vägen 25, Göteborg, Sweden.
The case is of fundamental importance in a country that is nominally a democracy. The right to freely express opinions on political, cultural and social issues without risk of reprisal is the very foundation of a democratic society. The opinions that Lennart Eriksson expresses are based on a strong democratic foundation whose cornerstone is the unassailable affirmation of every individual’s equal human value. In the political perspective, Lennart Eriksson’s opinions are traditionally Conservative.
Political persecution is unfamiliar in a country where generations of citizens have been told that this sort of thing cannot occur at home. The Swedish Migration Board fulfils a vital social function. Protecting human rights and offering asylum to victims of persecution are among the Board’s central roles. However, with the Swedish Migration Board revealing that it will not hesitate to victimise its own employees for political beliefs that are at odds with those of its managers, its credibility and the public’s confidence in its operations risk irreversible erosion.
On trial: freedom of expression in Sweden
This trial follows hard on the heels of another high-profile case in which a Swedish intern working at a Swedish embassy abroad was summarily fired and sent home when his political affiliations were discovered. That case was taken up by Sweden’s Chancellor of Justice who ordered the Foreign Ministry to pay the sacked intern compensation for wrongful dismissal. The verdict against the embassy was remarkable for its particularly brusque wording.
That case bore an uncanny resemblance to the situation in which Lennart Eriksson finds himself: the freedom to have political beliefs and to express them privately resulting in a state-run institution terminating an employee’s tenure.
For further information, please contact:
Ilya Meyer, Göteborg, Sweden
Phone +46 31 690450
Mobile phone +46 708 690450