When we posted on the Sappho.dk commentary about the Danish Supreme Court decision acquitting Lars Hedegaard, President of the Danish Free Press Society, we noted that the ruling did not result in changing the language of Article 266b of the penal code that caused nearly two years of heedless litigation. Effectively, truth as fact remains denied as a defense of free speech in Denmark. That means more jeopardy for anyone in Denmark, like Hedegaard , who has the temerity to crticize Islamic doctrine. Thus more allegations and grist for public prosecutors will likely follow on bogus charges of "racism' and hate speech. We wrote in our post that this cries out for adopting, what the Hon. Geert Wilders in the Netherlands has proposed, an EU version of the US First Amendment. To that, Hedegaard responded in an email, "totally agreed."
A statement by Hedegegaard, "The Prosecutor Lies in Wait" published today on the Gatestone Institute blog furthers our conclusion and his warning.
The Prosecutopr Lies in Wait
by Lars Hedegaard
Article 266b, under which I was charged, remains unchanged. Thus, we still have no right to refer to truth if we are indicted under this article.
I am satisfied that the Supreme Court has delivered a verdict in accordance with the evidence given in lower and superior court. The prosecution had this evidence before it decided to press charges so I cannot understand why it went ahead.
The prosecutor has burdened the courts and the taxpayers needlessly for more than two years.
This judgment is not necessarily a victory for free speech. Article 266b, under which I was charged, remains unchanged. It remains a disgrace to any civilised society and is an open invitation to frivolous trials. Thus, we still have no right to refer to truth if we are indicted under this article.
There have been several attempts to make 266b conform to normal standards of justice but successive governments and parliamentary majorities have steadfastly refused.
I am, however, happy that my acquittal means that at least the Supreme Court has set a limit to how deeply the State may penetrate one's private life. The Supreme Court has clearly upheld the principle that for a statement to be criminal, it must have been made with the intent of public dissemination. We may still talk freely in our own homes.
My personal reaction to more than two years of fatiguing litigation is to demand written guarantees from people who want to talk to me. With their signatures they must confirm that nothing be passed on without my express approval and without me having had a chance to vet it. This goes whether people are journalists or not.
I would advise everybody to do the same for we all know that the prosecutor lies in wait.
The Free Press Society will strengthen its struggle against the penal code's despicable Article 266b.
Lars Hedegaard, President of The Free Press Society in Denmark, was acquitted two days ago after a three year struggle through three layers of Danish courts, of "hate speech" for having spoken freely in his own home. Article 266b, however, under which he was charged, still stands, ensuring that anyone who fails to submit to continual self –censorship, or who inadvertently says something in public "that might offend somebody" -- even if what he said was true – can be placed under arrest and subjected to financially, emotionally and socially ruinous years on trial. It would be hard to think of a more effective way totally to crush free speech. Until article 266b is revoked, free speech is an outlaw in Denmark.