Feb 21 2007

Press Release Regarding the RUV News About the ELF Action in Hafnarfjördur

Saving Iceland has been alerted to a report broadcast today 21 February by RUV, the Icelandic National Broadcast Service. The report is about an act of sabotage in Hafnarfjordur claimed by the Earth Liberation Front.

We understand that the report has already been transmitted in various versions on RUV radio. In the 8 o’clock news it is stated directly that the ELF are responsible for the website www.savingiceland.org. Quoting RUV: “… The group [ELF] maintain a website devoted to the struggle against heavy industry in Iceland.”

Anyone who has done the slightest amount of research would find that the ELF maintain their own website www.earthliberationfront.com. As far as we are aware the ELF are US based and have never before been concerned with environmental issues in Iceland. Clearly RUV did not bother to find out about this until just before the 12.20pm news. But this did not prompt the RUV news department to correct their earlier inaccuracies regarding the Saving Iceland website.

It is made clear in the SI report (see /?p=668) about this ELF action that the ELF declaration is from the Earth First! Action Reports website (http://www.earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports/?p=2175). Earth First! Action Reports is a website where anyone can report actions without editorial control. RUV did not report the real origin of the story until 12.20pm. Until then RUV preferred to quote savingiceland.org as if it was the original source for the story and thus implicate SI by association. This is not simply sloppy journalism but could be also understood as an attempt to incriminate Saving Iceland.

In light of the fact that this concerns a criminal investigation it is very serious that RUV does not check its sources more thoroughly. The e-mail address of Saving Iceland is in several prominent places on our website, yet RUV has not written to us with any queries regarding this matter prior to these transmissions.

In the lunch time news at 12.20pm Olafur Pall Sigurdsson is mentioned as the “spokesman of Saving Iceland”. It is true that OPS is one of the founders of SI and was one of the spokespersons for the protest camp in the summer of 2005. Since then many other people have spoken on behalf of SI in accordance with our policy of rotating that particular function. Never during the protests in the summer of 2006 did OPS speak on behalf of Saving Iceland and he has not been advertised since as freely available to comment on any issue regarding SI. To single one individual out and mention his name in association with this news without his consent is questionable and smacks of highly irresponsible attempts at scapegoating, hardly worthy of a National Broadcast Service.

We would like to take the opportunity to point out that the item of news in question has been on our website for almost four weeks. Yet no Icelandic media has chosen to report the story all this time until now. Why RUV chooses to pick up on it finally at this time could pose some interesting questions. This is particularly so in view of the fact that the referendum on the ALCAN smelter in Hafnarfjordur is more imminent now than it was four weeks ago.

We suggest that people take a hard look at the kind of journalism RUV is practising here.

In view of these grave misrepresentations by RUV we would like to draw attention to the following questions:

Is RUV, by picking up this by now old news item, at this time and reporting it in the manner we have shown above, seeking to influence voters in the upcoming referendum in Hafnarfjordur?

If the above is the case then RUV is breaking its commitment to impartial reporting and is guilty of attempting to marginalise a legitimate organisation (and furthermore an individual) that have never been proven to commit acts such as described in the news report.

Furthermore, if this is true then RUV are taking an active role as a tool for those extremist elements who would like to see the cause of environmental struggle in Iceland smeared. We trust that the people of Hafnarfjordur will see through such crude attempts at propaganda when they cast their votes at the end of March.

We would like to stress the fact again that still so far no one from RUV has written to Saving Iceland to seek any clarification in spite of the address being freely available. This casts even more doubts on the professional integrity of the RUV news department in this matter.

Saving Iceland are compelled to demand that the RUV news department make an immediate public and truthful correction of the facts and issue a clear apology.

www.savingiceland.org reports on environmental issues in Iceland and as such we are not responsible for the incidents we report, unless we state so. By merely reporting an action we certainly do not implicate ourselves in it, nor do we condone or condemn it more than any other news outlet does by reporting the same action.

With regards from the Saving Iceland Collective

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Alvarlegar athugasemdir við fréttaflutning RÚV af skemmdarverkum í Hafnarfirði – Þýtt og endursagt á íslensku

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