While filming a story on the plight of migrants, a journalist decided to help one man, whose asylum application was rejected, illegally sneak into the country. Unfortunately for the sympathetic reporter, he later received an unexpected knock on the door.
For Swedish journalist Fredrik Önnevall, reporting on the facts isn’t his highest priority. In fact, in an interview, he admitted that the journalistic code of ethics took a back seat when he saw the opportunity to carry out his own political agenda.
“As a journalist, you’re supposed to report not to interact,” he told AFP. “It wasn’t about journalism anymore, it was more about ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What can I stand for?'”
The opportunity came in the form of an Arab teen. Önnevall was caught off guard when he was approached while on a television project in Greece by an alleged 15-year-old Syrian migrant, who pleaded with the journalist to smuggle him into Sweden. The migrant had reportedly passed through multiple safe countries.
Önnevall loaded the Syrian migrant into his car and traveled through Italy, Austria, Germany, and Denmark before arriving in Malmö and releasing the boy he had trafficked. Believing he had done his humanitarian duty, Önnevall was soon shocked when he received an unexpected knock at the door.
According to Nyheter Idag, Önnevall was arrested and charged with human trafficking after it was revealed that he had smuggled in the Syrian teen, who had failed to obtain asylum status. However, Önnevall’s troubles didn’t end there. He was soon disgraced when he discovered that the Syrian “refugee” he had helped was soon arrested for wielding a knife in Uppsala.
The Syrian migrant was arrested by Swedish authorities for carrying a knife. He has since been convicted of being in possession of an illegal weapon and was ordered to pay a $209 fine, Breitbart reports. His status in the country is now under review by the Swedish Migration Board.
Önnevall was found guilty in a district court and failed to receive an appeal from the supreme court. He was given a conditional sentence but ordered to pay all court costs and fines. Despite his illegal activities, SVT Nyheter HR and communications director Sabina Rasiwala admitted that the media outlet would be retaining Önnevall as a journalist.
“SVT agrees with the team that they made a departure from their journalistic mission in this case, but that they ended up in a difficult situation and acted on humanitarian grounds and not for their own gain,” Rasiwala writes. “The team did not have an assignment to help the boy, but acted on their own initiative and informed SVT only when they arrived in Sweden. After careful consideration and much discussion, SVT nevertheless chose to publish this story because it was an important illustration of the acute refugee situation in the world and that it had a great public interest. “
SVT and Önnevall were shamed when the recipient of their “good deed” was found to be carrying an illegal weapon in his new host country. Still, Önnevall is sticking by his decision, placing his personal feelings over the law. He revealed that he spoke with the Syrian migrant after he was convicted of human trafficking, claiming that the migrant had a job and was doing well in school.
Other news outlets jumped on the story, pointing to the migrant’s case as an example of successful integration. Many claimed that he spoke fluent Swedish, but this claim was debunked by Nyheter Idag, which pointed out that the migrant required an interpreter during his trial.
Disturbingly, Önnevall isn’t the only public figure to abandon their duties in order to participate in a political cause. Swiss politician Lisa Bosia Mirra was convicted after she helped 24 migrants illegally enter Switzerland. Although the charges were dropped, German Left Party politician Diether Dehm admitted to smuggling an African migrant into Germany in the back of his car.
It’s appalling to see those charged with reporting the unadulterated truth and refraining from engaging in political schemes do exactly that. The fact that he is allowed to keep his job is all the more reason for the people to distrust the media.