05 February 2021
05 February 2021
On Monday 8 February, a Gothenburg court will deliver its verdict in the trial of journalist Henrik Evertsson and camera operator Linus Andersson for their documentary about the sinking of the ‘MS Estonia’. Charged with violating the burial site of the wreck, they face up to two years in prison. The partners of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) stress the journalistic nature of the investigation carried out in the public interest and call for the acquittal of the two documentary makers.
The “MS Estonia”, a 157-metre long cruise ferry, was en route from Tallinn to Stockholm in September 1994 when it sank in international waters in less than half an hour with 989 people on board. It is known as one of Europe’s greatest maritime disasters, killing 852 people. Yet the causes of the shipwreck remain murky. The official version based on the 1997 investigation – that there had been a failure of the vessel’s retractable ramp – had been disputed for years by the survivors and relatives of the victims.
Broadcast on 28 September 2020 on Discovery Channel, the documentary entitled “Estonia: the discovery that changes everything” revealed the existence of a previously unknown four-metre hole in the hull of the ship. It was filmed with a remotely-operated camera attached to an underwater vehicle. Evertsson and Andersson are accused of illegally entering a protected site considered as a grave following the 1995 agreement between Sweden, Estonia and Finland, which bans any exploration of the area.
This new evidence once again questions the official version and suggests an alternative explanation. While the journalists do not draw any conclusions, experts interviewed in the documentary argue that only a massive force from outside could have caused the rupture.
The Swedish Union of Journalists (SJF) stood with the defendants in court on 25 January 2021. During the hearing, several legal questions were raised by both the prosecutor and the defence. The prosecutor did not seem to acknowledge the journalistic purpose behind the action.
SJF President Ulrika Hyllert rejects the argument claiming that the team produced a ‘commercial product’: “It is clear that Henrik Evertsson went there as a journalist and his work provided information of great public interest. This was illustrated in particular by the fact that the government now wants to amend Estonian law to allow further investigations into the hull.”
Together with the Swedish Union of Journalists, MFRR partners urge to recognise the journalistic and public interest nature of the investigation carried out by Evertsson and Andersson, motivated by the need to answer a number of questions that remain open. The conviction of two journalists in a country with high standards of press freedom would not only send a wrong signal to other Swedish media workers but also to the public who would see its right to know violated.
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom
European Federation of Journalists
Free Press Unlimited
International Press Institute (IPI)
This statement is part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), an Europe-wide mechanism, which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries. This project provides legal and practical support, public advocacy and information to protect journalists and media workers. The MFRR is organised by an consortium led by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) with ARTICLE 19, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), the Institute for Applied Informatics at the University of Leipzig (InfAI), International Press Institute (IPI) and CCI/Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT). The project is co-funded by the European Commission. www.mfrr.eu
As the European Commission is finalising the draft proposal for a European Media Freedom Act, ECPMF has joined a coalition of media freedom groups to call for the EMFA to address issues around the European single market, media ownership and transparency of economic relations with the state, and how to support a vibrant, diverse and independent media sector.READ MORE
ECPMF joined a collection of media freedom and freedom of expression groups to express concern at delays to the investigation into the publication of Romanian journalist Emilia Șercan’s stolen photos and the alleged leak of key elements of the investigation into this offense.READ MORE
Representatives from IPI and ECPMF travelled to Prague on 15 June to meet with officials from the Ministry of Culture and push for the development of reforms which strengthen the independence of the country’s public broadcaster.READ MORE
Partners of the MFRR today express serious concern over the recent €1,000 fine issued to Pulitzer prize-winning photographer Javier Bauluz under Spain’s controversial “Gag Law”.READ MORE
Maria Grynevych is a Ukrainian journalist and Chief Editor of the news agency Socportal. She has been displaced since the start of the war in Ukraine. Maria is currently participating in ECPMF’s Journalist-in-Residence programme in Leipzig.READ MORE
|_mcid||1 year||This is a Mailchimp functionality cookie used to evaluate the UI/UX interaction with its platform|
|_ga||2 years||The _ga cookie, installed by Google Analytics, calculates visitor, session and campaign data and also keeps track of site usage for the site's analytics report. The cookie stores information anonymously and assigns a randomly generated number to recognize unique visitors.|
|_gat_gtag_UA_84831681_1||1 minute||Set by Google to distinguish users.|
|_gid||1 day||Installed by Google Analytics, _gid cookie stores information on how visitors use a website, while also creating an analytics report of the website's performance. Some of the data that are collected include the number of visitors, their source, and the pages they visit anonymously.|
|ahoy_visit||4 hours||This cookie is set by Powr for analytics measurement.|
|ahoy_visitor||2 years||This cookie is set by Powr for analytics measurement.|
|CONSENT||2 years||YouTube sets this cookie via embedded youtube-videos and registers anonymous statistical data.|
|s_vi||2 years||An Adobe Analytics cookie that uses a unique visitor ID time/date stamp to identify a unique vistor to the website.|
|VISITOR_INFO1_LIVE||5 months 27 days||A cookie set by YouTube to measure bandwidth that determines whether the user gets the new or old player interface.|
|YSC||session||YSC cookie is set by Youtube and is used to track the views of embedded videos on Youtube pages.|
|yt-remote-connected-devices||never||YouTube sets this cookie to store the video preferences of the user using embedded YouTube video.|
|yt-remote-device-id||never||YouTube sets this cookie to store the video preferences of the user using embedded YouTube video.|