STOCKHOLM The Cologne sex assault on New Year’s Eve, where groups of Arab and North African men groped more than a hundred German women, has shocked Europe this last week. But a very similar incident, with a large number of perpetrators and victims, took place in the Swedish capital last summer. That incident however was silenced by large Swedish newspapers and media companies, despite repeated attempts from police officers to contact journalists. This is how leading Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter tried to cover up a politically inconvenient sex assault story.
Nyheter Idag is now able to disclose in detail how major Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter deliberately covered up stories about widespread sexual abuse in central Stockholm in connection with a concert in the Kungsträdgården public square this August. “The mere suspicion that the abuse has been considered as difficult to describe involves a betrayal of the victims”,the newspaper writes about the event, almost six months later.
On Saturday August 15th, the nationally acclaimed and outspoken feminist artist Zara Larsson headlined the youth festival ‘We Are Sthlm” with a crowded concert in Kungsträdgården in central Stockholm. Thousands of young people were in attendance to take part in the event during the last summer nights of the year.
But for an unknown number of young girls the festival soon became a nightmare. Hordes of young men pressed against young girls, fondled and tried to cop a feel over and under skirts, pants and shirts. There were severe sexual assaults happening right in front of the stage, where artists such as Larsson and rapper OIAM performed.
During a single night police and security guards had to intervene against around 90 younger males, but even adult men took part in the abuse, says an eye witness to Nyheter Idag. The eye witness has professional experience from working at the Stockholm Police Department as a psychologist.
The police officer tried to contact Dagens Nyheter several times: “They never called again”
The psychologist who knew of what had happened in Kungsträdgården contacted journalist Hanne Kjöller at Dagens Nyheter, by, among other things, e-mail on August 17. The psychologist says he specifically turned to Kjöller because he knew that she had previously written about controversial topics.
“She was very interested and listened until I told her that all the boys and men that were apprehended were young asylants (unaccompanied is the terminology used by Swedish authorities) from Afghanistan and Syria. I sensed that she changed the tone (of her voice). But she also said that she would contact the police”, he tells Nyheter Idag.
Kjöller got the phone number to one of the police officers who were on duty during the event in Kungsträdgården and could provide a recollection of the events. Nyheter Idag has talked with the police officer who Kjöller talked to in August, and he was eager to tell Dagens Nyheter about the massive cases of sexual assault against young girls in central Stockholm.
“She sent a text message to me once, early on, where she wrote that she was looking for me, she wanted to talk. After that, I tried to get in touch with her, but that was when things started to get awry. She answered sometimes, said she would get back to me. But it never amounted to anything. She was interested in it for half day or a day, then she wasn’t anymore”.
The officer explains that he worked for several evenings during this week in Kungsträdgården square. He tells of how he and his colleagues had to apprehend a large number of young men who sexually assaulted girls, in large part unaccompanied refugees from Afghanistan.
The police officer, who has worked as a police officer for over 20 years, emphatically states several times that the events in Kungsträdgården were systematic and extensive in number. This was what he wanted to tell Hanne Kjöller of Dagens Nyheter.
“We got in touch and talked briefly, and she said she would call back, which she did not. So I looked for her, she did not call back. I tried to reach her at another time, but I never heard back from her again. I called several times, cannot say exactly how many. It was over a three or four day period”.
“The editor at DN dismissed the story as SD falsity”
Time passes and a new year begins – it’s now 2016 and the brutal and massive sexual assaults against young girls that August evening in Kungsträdgården is completely unknown to the public.
But then something happens, a rumor that goes viral on blogs in Germany spreads to the so-called “alternative media” in Sweden. After a day, traditional media in both Germany and other European countries start to report on the same issue.
It is, of course, the Sex Attacks in Cologne on New Year’s Eve.
It came to grow into a major scandal after police initially did not report on the large number of sexual abuses and rapes that occurred on the New Year’s Eve. A police chief was fired and it has been speculated why there was so much silence initially, despite all the sexual assaults. But the scandal was a fact and just over a week into the year, there is no way avoiding the subject – are authorities and the media deliberately trying to cover up sexual abuse carried out by men with migrant backgrounds?
Now something happens at newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
The journalist Hanne Kjöller tries to establish contact with the psychologist on January 7th about the events in Kungsträdgården nearly five months earlier. She writes an e-mail to the psychologist. “Would like to get in touch with you again after what happened in Cologne during the New Year holidays,” she writes. In the e-mail conversation it is apparent that she learned of the sexual assaults in Kungsträdgården already on August 17th, but is only now ready to give attention to what happened.
She also calls the psychologist and records a message on his voicemail.
“We had contact in August. Now, after what happened in Cologne, I would like to talk to you again. It got stuck on certain things when we were doing this in August”, says Kjöller in the voicemail.
Then they get in contact with each other again. The incident in Kungsträdgården was suddenly a very pressing matter for Hanne Kjöller to report on, says the psychologist to Nyheter Idag.
“Hanne Kjöller contacted me again yesterday because of the events in Germany, she said it gave her a bad feeling. She was fidgeting when I asked her why she never contacted the police and never wrote an article”, says the psychologist.
He says that Kjöller claims she never got hold of the police, and that is why no article was ever published in Dagens Nyheter about the incident in Kungsträdgården. But the psychologist also says that he’s been given a different explanation. That Kjöller over the phone told him that “the editor for the Stockholm section of Dagens Nyheter had taken charge of the case herself, and (the editor) considered the story to be “SD fabrications” (SD, or Sweden Democrats, are a populist anti-migration party that for a long time has been at odds with Swedish mainstream media).
“She (Kjöller) said that her editor had used the term ‘SD fabrications’ or ‘SD falsifications’, something like that. I remember that detail specifically”, says the psychologist.
The psychologist takes out his mobile phone, his fingers dances over the touch screen. He is upset because of the way he thinks Dagens Nyheter has handled the issue. In a text message, sent from Hanne Kjöller, she is basically apologizing for the critically important story not having been published.
“But a warm thanks for your tip. I am sorry that we didn’t use it in a better way. Hanne”, the text message reads.
Dagens Nyheter: “A betrayal of the victims”
January, Saturday 9th 2016 Dagens Nyheter runs an article with the headline “Women’s right to party safely cannot be sacrificed”. The article is written by freelance writer Lasse Wierup, Hanne Kjöller’s colleague at Dagens Nyheter. In the article the incident in Kungsträdgården is now mentioned for the very first time.
“One of the police officers who took part in the command, and had to give a lot of time in support of the victimized girls, says that the whole incident was considered very sensitive. The young lads that were sent away were judged to be mostly unaccompanied (asylum seekers or refugees)”, writes Wierup.
Then Wierup continues, pondering why the events haven’t been covered in the media previously. He claims it’s “unclear” (why that is), despite that his colleague Hanne Kjöller, according to the psychologist, explained that the editor at Dagens Nyheters Stockholm section earlier dismissed the whole story as “SD fabrications”.
“Why the widespread sexual harassments, in the midst of central Stockholm, with some minor exception, were left in a media shadow, is unknown to me. But the very suspicion that the sexual assaults were considered awkward to (write about) is a betrayal of the victims”, writes Wierup in the very same newspaper that covered up the whole incident to begin with.
After Wierups article is published, some readers are catching on. Andreas Ericson, editor at the now-canceled magazine Neo, is pondering on Twitter if Dagens Nyheter is withholding some information.
“The information about we are sthlm raises a couple of questions. Were crimes reported? Was there any criminal investigation?”
“The details are sketchy and the source is anonymous. But Wierup has a good eye. The (incidents) were going on “night after night”. Were the news desks told about it?”
Hanne Kjöller: “I feel betrayed”
When Nyheter Idag calls Hanne Kjöller to ask why there wasn’t any article published about the massive cases of systematic sexual assaults in Kungsträdgården she first gets quiet. She then explains that this is an issue that she doesn’t care to discuss.
“I can’t talk to you about what my sources have said to me. I can’t confirm or deny anything”.
Nyheter Idag explains to Kjöller that we are privy to e-mail conversations and text messages between her and the psychologist. Nyheter Idag also explains that the psychologist have told how he feels that she and Dagens Nyheter have obfuscated, covered up, the events that took place in Kungsträdgården. And so Nyheter Idag asks Kjöller to yet again explain how it happened that a story about such serious abuse was never published.
“I’m not going to answer that. No, no, no. I don’t want to talk to you”, Kjöller says and hangs up.
Shortly after the phone conversation with Nyheter Idag Kjöller calls the psychologist. He doesn’t answer but she leaves a voice mail. On the recording Kjöller explains how she feels betrayed because the psychologist talked to Nyheter Idag about how he feels Dagens Nyheter obfuscated the incident in Kungsträdgården.
“Hello, this is Hanne Kjöller. I just had a phone call by a journalist and I feel I would need to talk to you. There may be a couple of misunderstandings, and in addition to that I feel pretty betrayed that you’ve exposed this conversation that you and me had. But please call me as soon as you hear this”, said Kjöller on the voice mail.
A short while after the voice mail the psychologist returns Kjöllers phone call. He’s now upset and makes a point that he doesn’t consider Kjöller the one being betrayed. It is instead all those girls that were sexually assaulted – something Dagens Nyheter chose not to report on despite knowing the story.
When Lasse Wierup then writes in Dagens Nyheter that he doesn’t know why the incident in Kungsträdgården were left in “media shadow”, it only fuels the disappointment the psychologist feels.
“The news tip didn’t get the editor for the Stockholm desk excited”
When the psychologist in the phone conversation with Kjöller mentions that she previously stated that the editor had dismissed the story as “SD fabrications”, Kjöller says that it wasn’t what she said. Instead she clarifies. What she doesn’t know is that the whole conversation is recorded.
“I said that the editor for the Stockholm desk didn’t get excited about this lead. And I left two leads the same day. One she went with, which I can’t even remember what it was”, explains Kjöller on the phone.
Psychologist: “She didn’t go with the lead about how girls were systematically exposed to this and how 90 young lads were apprehended and that it went on every night during this festival? That didn’t have any news value? Do you want me to believe that? Listen to yourself, listen to what you are saying!”
“You don’t even listen to what I am saying. She probably did a judgment call on the credibility in this…”, Kjöller replies.
Psychologist: “But it’s so easy to check! You just got to call the police and get their incident reports. With a phone call you could’ve verified whether I was telling the truth or not!”
“It’s really weird that you feel this… That you don’t want to go public with your name”, says Kjöller.
The conversation continues and Kjöller makes it into about how the psychologist isn’t prepared to speak openly, with his name, about what has happened.
The psychologist explains to Nyheter Idag that he wants to be anonymous due to circumstances related to his job. Nyheter Idag have been given access to emails, text messages and voice mails from Hanne Kjöller.
The psychologist also says he’s contacted two other media outlets through e-mail to tell his account of the incident in Kungsträdgården. He didn’t get any response, thus he gave up on noticing media about what took place last summer.
High-tech is increasingly used by police departments, but some have gone so far as surveilling citizens via software that calculates a citizen’s threat score.
Intrado, the company behind the threat-scoring software, says Beware “sorts and scores billions of publicly-available commercial records in a matter of seconds – alerting responders to potentially dangerous situations while en route to, or at the location of, a 9-1-1 request for assistance.”
In much the same way as the Harris Corporation keeps the lid tightly sealed on the details of its Stingray cell-site simulators and trackers, Intrado considers the how’s of Beware calculating threat scores to be a “trade secret.” However the Washington Post said the program scours “billions of data points, including arrest reports, property records, commercial databases, deep Web searches” as well as a citizen’s “social- media postings.” The calculated threat level is color-coded with green, yellow or red as the highest warning.
The Washington Post visited the Fresno Police Department’s $600,000 Real Time Crime Center where Beware is being used. The Post reported:
On 57 monitors that cover the walls of the center, operators zoomed and panned an array of roughly 200 police cameras perched across the city. They could dial up 800 more feeds from the city’s schools and traffic cameras, and they soon hope to add 400 more streams from cameras worn on officers’ bodies and from thousands from local businesses that have surveillance systems.
The cameras were only one tool at the ready. Officers could trawl a private database that has recorded more than 2 billion scans of vehicle licenses plates and locations nationwide. If gunshots were fired, a system called ShotSpotter could triangulate the location using microphones strung around the city. Another program, called Media Sonar, crawled social media looking for illicit activity. Police used it to monitor individuals, threats to schools and hashtags related to gangs.