On December 23, 2011, the newspaper Verdens Gang (VG) ran an online article entitled “Slik var kontakten mellom ‘Fjordman’ og Breivik” — “This is what the contact was like between ‘Fjordman’ and Breivik.” That same afternoon the public broadcaster NRK also quoted information that came directly from confidential statements I had given to Norwegian police in the fall of 2011.
The police thus managed to leak to both the country’s largest newspaper and its largest TV and radio broadcaster on the same day.
Leaks to the mass media in the Breivik case have continued. They involve not only me, but also other witnesses. Aftenposten published a story based on the statements of survivors from the Utøya massacre. Police lawyer Christian Hatlo admitted that the numerous media leaks have become a serious problem for them. Some witnesses no longer dare tell the police what they know, because they fear being exposed in the press.
In my case, the leaks wouldn’t have been so bad if only the reports by VG and NRK had accurately reflected what my police statement says. Unfortunately, the two media outlets did no such thing. Since this is classified information, protected by official police secrecy, the general public cannot verify for themselves whether this is true or not.
The VG article was scandalous, full of distortions, half-truths and several outright lies. After I sent them a series of furious emails in which I more or less openly threatened them with an expensive libel suit, they suddenly got cold feet and decided to publish a minor apology for one of their worst and most obviously false allegations, but by no means for all of them.
I have never met Anders Behring Breivik in my life, something which both he himself and the police investigation have confirmed to be true. I have also never talked to him on the telephone, chatted with him or anything like that. I had literally never seen that man’s face before until it started popping up in the mass media following the terror attacks on July 22.
I did, however, receive a tiny handful of emails from him in late 2009 and early 2010. I made no attempt to hide this fact from either the press or the police. I printed them out at the offices of the law firm Staff in Oslo after I had showed them to my lawyers there. I gave them to the police as soon as I walked in for questioning. These emails contained absolutely nothing about bombs, shooting or anything of that sort. I seriously doubt whether they contained a single piece of important information that the police didn’t already have. Nevertheless, I gave to them what little I had. That’s all I know about Mr. Breivik, and it isn’t much.
The police have concluded that I have a high credibility as a witness because what I have told them has generally turned out to the true. They have also concluded that I cannot be charged with anything criminal, and that I told the truth when I said that I did not know Breivik and did not have any relationship with him in any form, apart from indirect contact at the website Document.no where many people posted comments. This is where he once made an attempt to contact me by email. These emails contain nothing whatsoever of criminal interest, however.
Janne Kristiansen, director of the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST), has indicated that Breivik wrote nothing about his terror plans to anybody before the attacks. That includes me. On the contrary, he worked hard to maintain a moderate façade, with considerable success.
VG turned my police statement 180°. They made it sound as if I had been in close contact with Breivik and egged him on with my “extreme” views. I didn’t write anything extreme at all in those emails. There were three or four of them, none longer than about two sentences. People send longer and more extreme emails to their dentist than I sent to Anders Behring Breivik.
When I pressed them on this issue, and threatened with a libel suit they finally apologized for their “mistake”. I’m not at all certain it was a mistake, however. There was nothing in my emails that could be understood as extreme, even using the most hostile interpretation. In fact, the most controversial thing I wrote to him was that I don’t use Facebook, the very popular social networking service that currently has hundreds of millions of active users around the world.
VG journalists Hans Henrik Torgersen, Morten Hopperstad, Marianne Vikås, Jarle Brenna and Fridtjof Nygaard also strongly indicated in their article that Breivik and I had mutual acquaintances. This is totally without basis in fact. To my knowledge, none of my personal friends or people with whom I am in regular contact knew him or had ever met him. VG also hinted that ABB may have known my real name or identity. This is, again, quite simply not true.
The overall result of VG’s article, which was packed with omissions, distortions, half-truths, errors and outright lies, was to attach my name to 77 murders. That’s how it would look to the average reader. This was published during the Christmas season, which means that my father, who usually reads VG in the printed paper edition, read these allegations on Christmas Eve.
VG have been struggling with falling revenues and a lower readership for years, as have many newspapers around the Western world. Yet they experienced a big boost after the Breivik massacre. In short: Anders Behring Breivik makes big money for VG. The Norwegian folk singer and guitarist Øystein Sunde has written a satirical song about the mass media called “Smi mens liket er varmt,” or “Strike while the corpse is hot”. That’s an apt description for what certain newspapers are doing in this case.
In its opening paragraph, the VG article states that “While he was working on his gruesome terror plan, Anders Behring Breivik repeatedly had contact with Peder ‘Fjordman’ Jensen.”
First of all: Breivik was never a prominent person, except perhaps in his own rather twisted mind. I had barely noticed him on the Internet before the terror attacks.
Secondly: I am not a psychic or a mind reader. I cannot anticipate what other human beings will do years later when they themselves give no hint of their plans, which ABB did not do. If the police and the security services — who are paid professionals trained to do this sort of job — didn’t anticipate what Breivik was about to do, how can one expect an amateur who had never met him to do so?
As a matter of fact, the police investigation has revealed that ABB used many different email accounts and nicknames and left comments on dozens of very different websites, in addition to being extremely active in online games such as World of Warcraft, where he lived in a virtual reality of heroic warfare. Interestingly enough, that apparently includes the online discussion forums of VG and Aftenposten, by far Norway’s two largest newspapers. For some reason, though, they have been suspiciously quiet about what he actually wrote there.
Aftenposten didn’t just temporarily shut down their online debates following the terror attacks, as many Norwegian papers did at that time, but after the identity of the terrorist became known took the drastic step of deleting their entire discussion forum and removing it from the Internet on a permanent basis. This is such a radical move that it resembles panic. It leaves an outside observer wondering: What exactly are they hiding?
VG didn’t remove their own debate forum, but they haven’t said a word about what Breivik wrote there, either. Perhaps they might as well have written that “While he was working on his gruesome terror plan, Anders Behring Breivik repeatedly posted angry comments on VGDebatt.”
I don’t consider this behavior acceptable, for a number of reasons. First of all because it is immoral of these newspapers to publish sensitive information about persons who have recently experienced extremely traumatic events, while they themselves won’t even publish some simple discussion comments.
Most importantly, these newspapers and the press in general are always the first to call for “full openness” from everybody else. What happened to practicing what you preach?
I hereby call on editor-in-chief Hilde Haugsgjerd of Aftenposten as well as editor-in-chief Torry Pedersen of VG to follow the example set by the website Document.no and publish all comments Anders Behring Breivik made in the online discussion forums of their own newspapers.
The public has a right to know. If these newspapers refuse to do this, they and the Schibsted media conglomerate, which owns both of them, should tell the public exactly why they refuse to demand from themselves what they demand from everybody else.
For the record: I made an attempt to get comments from both VG and Aftenposten about this on Sunday evening, but I was received no reply before the deadline.
For a complete archive of Fjordman’s writings, see the multi-index listing in the Fjordman Files.