Iceland poised to provide true freedom to journalists

Edited to add: Julian Assange, one of the engineers of Iceland’s new freedom of speech protection laws, was arrested for rape today but released after police decided the report against him lacked merit.

After Iceland’s near-economic collapse laid bare deep-seated corruption, the country aims to become a safe haven for journalists and whistleblowers from around the globe by creating the world’s most far-reaching freedom of information legislation.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and parliamentary representative Birgitta Jonsdottir are helping to create, “the world’s most far-reaching freedom of information legislation,” in Iceland. Reformers estimate it will take 1 1/2 years to change 13 laws to make it possible for Iceland to offer the most extreme level journalists have anywhere in the globe, plus similar protection for whistleblowers who report on abuse by governments and major corporations and afterwards may become targets for persecution, harassment, slander and even assassination.

The aspiring ‘island of transparency’ aims to strengthen source protection, encourage whistleblowers to leak information and help counter so-called ‘libel tourism’, which consists in dragging journalists before foreign courts in countries with laws that best suit the prosecution.

The idea is to imitate and combine the existing most far-reaching laws in countries renowned for their freedom of expression, like the US, Sweden and Belgium.

‘I don’t think that there is anything radical in (IMMI). The radicalism around it is to pull these laws together,’ Jonsdottir said.

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