Iceland strives to become a global press freedom haven

REYKJAVIK, August 19, 2010 (AFP) – After Iceland’s near-economic collapse laid bare deep-seated corruption, the country aims to become a safe haven for journalists and whistleblowers from around the globe by creating the world’s most far-reaching freedom of information legislation. The project, developed with the help of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, flies in the face of a growing tendency of governments trying to stifle a barrage of secret and embarrassing information made readily available by the Internet.

On June 16, a unanimous parliament, or Althing, voted in favour of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), a resolution aimed at protecting investigative journalists and their sources.

“We took all the best laws from around the world and pulled them together, just like tax havens do, in order to create freedom of information and expression, a transparency haven,” Birgitta Jonsdottir, the member of parliament behind the initiative, told AFP.

Describing herself as an “anarchist,” the 43-year-old said she had decided to get into politics to seize the opportunities to change the system in Iceland following its dramatic financial collapse at the end of 2008.

Jonsdottir was shocked to witness the attempts at censorship in her country, which had long