17:19 GMT +319 October 2019
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    Stockholm. Dagens nyheter

    Entrepreneur Sues Swedish Newspaper for Libel Over "Russian Conspiracy"

    CC BY-SA 4.0 / : Kornhamnstorg / Stockholm
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    Publications by Sweden's largest morning newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, accusing an entrepreneur of "Russian ties" have resulted in a lawsuit demanding SEK 1 million ($100,000) in damages for defamation.

    Johan Lundberg, the owner of the property group NFF Nordic AB, has sued Dagens Nyheter's Editor-in-Chief Peter Wolodarski for libel, after Wolodarski's newspaper on several occasions presented Lundberg as a person with close ties to the Russian government and the right-wing party Sweden Democrats.

    "The article is deeply offensive and has caused me and my employees extensive personal and business damage," Johan Lundberg said in a press release.

    On October 7, Dagens Nyheter published an article on Johan Lundberg as part of an investigation on "How interests with direct and indirect links to Russia get promoted in Sweden." The fact that NFF Nordic AB has rented premises to the SD, Sweden's third-largest party supported by over a million Swedes, and a residence to the Russian Ambassador to Sweden, Viktor Tatarintsev, was presented as Lundberg's alleged "Russian ties." The article, penned by Josefin Sköld and Mattias Carlsson, also insisted that Johan Lundberg actively supported the Sweden Democrats (SD) based on the same premise.

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    Lundberg maintained that a subsequent publication on October 18, Lundberg ncluded text that portrayed him as a potential threat to Sweden's security interests based on references to the previous article.

    In support of Lundberg's ties to the "Russian regime," Dagens Nyheter cited his former business partner, who according to an anonymous source in the Russian newspaper Izvestiya from 2012 could have been linked to the Soviet secret service, the KGB. According to Lundberg, Dagens Nyheter "omitted" the fact that Lundberg was contracted to contact the person in question by none other than the Swedish Space Corporation.

    "Although they do not explicitly describe me as a spy or agent, this is how the article reads. It is of course deeply offensive and a legal abuse. The fact that Dagens Nyheter describes me as 'unknown,' makes the publishing of my name even more wrong," Johan Lundberg told the property newspaper Fastighetsvärlden.

    According to Lundberg, the fact that his company rents premises to Russia's ambassador would have been of no public interest if it hadn't been for the KGB insinuations.

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    Lundberg also disclaimed his allegiance to the SD, stressing that he in fact supported a different party which in fact opposed the SD. He claimed to have stressed it for Dagens Nyheter, something they chose not to reflect in the article.

    "The information is largely aimed at exposing Johan Lundberg to the discontent of others. These deeply compromising publications by one of Sweden's largest newspapers have resulted in a profound violation of Johan Lundberg's good name and reputation. The publications and their dissemination have already had consequences both private, socially and professional for Johan Lundberg," lawyer Percy Bratt, representing Johan Lundberg wrote in his lawsuit.

    The lawsuit was filed with the Stockholm County Court. Lundberg is demanding compensation of SEK 1 million ($100,000) for defamation from Dagens Nyheter's Editor-in-Chief Peter Wolodarski and wants the newspaper to publish the verdict.

    Dagens Nyheter is a major Swedish daily aspiring to full domestic and international coverage. Self-described as "independently liberal," it is owned by the Bonnier family, which altogether runs over a hundred of media companies in a dozen countries.

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