Eivind Berge, the Norwegian Men’s Rights blogger who was arrested after making repeated death threats against police on his blog, has been released from jail. The country’s Supreme Court has ruled that his comments – in which, among other things, he talked about how killing police was on his “bucket list” – are not illegal. His property will be returned to him and he is evidently entitled to compensation for his time in jail.
As far as I can figure it from the Google-translated articles I’ve read, the Supreme Court has ruled that statements on the internet are not “public” and therefore his threats don’t count as “incitement” under the law. Here’s what one article says:
Supreme Court’s Appeals Committee believes statements Berge has made on his blog are not covered by the Freedom of the definition in the Penal Code. incitement to violence and murder of police officers are therefore not presented publicly in the legal sense and therefore is not criminal, says the Supreme Court.
Apparently the issue was a fairly narrow legal one. According to the same article, the law under which he was prosecuted (written long before the birth of the Internet) “operates with a public safety and publishing concept that … do not take account of electronic publishing on the Internet.” The majority on the Supreme Court, the article goes on to say, felt that “the indictment includes actions that are clearly worthy of punishment,” but that existing law does not allow punishment for statements made on the Internet.
If anyone here knows Norwegian, let me know if this is correct. Here and here are several more articles in Norwegian, translated by Google. Here’s an article in English, written before the Supreme Court rendered its judgment, that spells out the issues a little more clearly.
On his blog, Berge celebrates his victory in the courts:
My blog is legal after all. The police had no lawful basis for pursuing criminal charges against me. This means the case has collapsed for the prosecution and I will be entitled to compensation for the three weeks I spent in prison. I was arrested and jailed for speech which the Supreme Court has ruled is legal, so obviously the entire prosecution was utterly baseless.
He considers his release a giant victory for Men’s Rights:
Being a political prisoner provided a welcome boost to my activism. … The entire process has been tremendously empowering for the Men’s Rights Movement. This spectacular prosecution of an MRA sparked debate and demonstrated to the horror of the feminist establishment that there are more antifeminists out there than they knew. I am not some kind of extremist easily dismissed, even though some of my writings may appear somewhat ungenteel. While my kind of violent rhetoric is legal, it is no longer needed. We are strong enough to fight feminism in more elegant and subtle ways now.
I will highlight some of Berge’s “ungenteel” opinions in future posts.