FBI Agents Expelled from Iceland over Unannounced Wikileaks Probe Visit
Angered that agents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) traveled to his country unannounced in an attempt to investigate the whistleblower website Wikileaks, Iceland’s interior minister had the Americans deported.
The Associated Press reports that Ogmundur Jonasson was caught off guard when he learned that FBI agents came to Iceland to question an unidentified Wikileaks associate in August 2″I, for one, was not aware that they were coming to Iceland,” Jonasson told the AP. “When I learned about it, I demanded that Icelandic police cease all cooperation and made it clear that people interviewed or interrogated in Iceland should be interrogated by Icelandic police.”
According to Icelandic state broadcaster RUV, Jonasson had the American agents deported from Iceland:
“The FBI arrived in private planes and landed at the Reykjavik airport… News of the visit reached [Interior Minister] Ögmundur Jónasson, who reacted sharply, as it was unbelievably presumptuous to come to Iceland that way… Jónasson demanded that the FBI agents pack their bags, get back on board, and leave the country. The matter was then brought before the cabinet and a formal protest was issued to US authorities.”
Iceland has been a safe haven for Wikileaks activity. The Economist Intelligence Unit ranks the Nordic island nation of 320,000 as the world’s 2nd most democratic, after Norway, and Icelanders pride themselves on their reputation for free speech. Wikileaks worked with Icelandic lawmakers to draft the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), a “parliamentary resolution… tasking the government with implementing various protections” to create a safe haven for journalists and to guarantee free speech in the digital age. The IMMI was passed by a vote of 50-0 in June 2010.
The United States government was not pleased by Iceland’s embrace of Wikileaks. Although the whistleblowing website has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for promoting peace by holding governments accountable for their actions, the Bush administration was infuriated that site leaked proof of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Obama administration, which has protected the Bush officials responsible for torture and other crimes, has targeted Wikileaks and its fugitive founder Julian Assange.
Leading conservatives have been particularly venomous in their condemnation of Wikileaks; former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has joined Fox News host Bill O’Reilly in calling for Assange’s execution, while former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said he should be hunted down like Osama bin Laden. Rep. Steve King (R-NY) asked former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder to designate Wikileaks a “foreign terrorist organization” and Assange a “terrorist ringleader.”
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