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NGO Monitor presses Swedish online publication, aid agency to remove ‘defamatory’ statements

In a letter filed with the Press Ombudsman of Sweden, the nongovernmental organization NGO Monitor accuses the online magazine Omvärlden and the Swedish International Development Cooperation of “publishing virulently antisemitic imagery and publishing false and libelous information” about NGO Monitor.

The Swedish flag over Stockholm. Credit: Stefan Lins via Flickr.
The Swedish flag over Stockholm. Credit: Stefan Lins via Flickr.

A publication and an aid agency, both in Sweden, have come under fire for spreading anti-Semitic sentiments and imagery.

In a letter filed on Monday with the Press Ombudsman of Sweden, the nongovernmental organization NGO Monitor accuses the online magazine Omvärlden and the Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA) of “publishing virulently antisemitic imagery and publishing false and libelous information” about NGO Monitor.

The complaint denounces Omvärlden, which is own by SIDA, of disseminating 16 articles last week that claim to debunk NGO Monitor’s “lies and half-truths,” which the latter labeled as “a defamatory statement.”

“Most alarming, the lead and background articles employ classic antisemitic motifs of spider-webs and conspiracy theories reminiscent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” added NGO Monitor.

Examples of errors and false accusations, according to NGO Monitor, include, but are not limited to, Omvärlden implying that “NGO Monitor was somehow involved in death threats against a lawyer based in The Hague,” which the watchdog group labeled as “blatantly false,” in addition to calling it an “attempt to associate NGO Monitor with this and a separate assault against an Israeli NGO activist”; and an article falsely stating that NGO Monitor founder and president Gerald Steinberg is a “former adviser to [Israeli] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu.”

Amid these accusations, NGO Monitor is calling for “an immediate removal of the series of articles on NGO Monitor,” “a formal apology from Omvärlden and the two authors responsible for the defamatory claims and antisemitic attacks,” and “an open and independent investigation as to how this incident occurred, including examination of all documents related to the publication of these articles and the actors involved.”

“A key component should be to determine whether [SIDA] officials played any role in the initiation, content, editing, publication or dissemination of these articles,” added NGO Monitor.

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