Thursday, 15 November 2007

Swedish Christian web editor wins appeal against two-month prison sentence over anti-gay comments on website

(Ed: More important for me than for some of you, no doubt. As Ricky Tomlinson's Jim Royle might have said, "Free speech in Europe? My *rse!")

A Christian website editor who was sentenced to two months in prison for inciting hatred against homosexuals has been cleared by the Supreme Court in Sweden.

Leif Liljeström, who had already had his sentence cut to one month by the Court of Appeal, was cleared after the court ruled that he may not have been aware that anti-gay comments posted by visitors to his website, Bibeltemplet or The Bible Temple, consituted incitement to hatred.

Mr Liljeström, aged 50, was told of today's Supreme Court's decision by news agency TT.

"Has the verdict arrived? A not guilty verdict? That's very good to hear. I actually had a feeling that it would turn out like this. I did what Christians do and asked God. I then got a feeling that it was going to work out well," he said.

Mr Liljeström told the court that he had thought long and hard about removing the offending posts before eventually allowing them to remain on the site where they could serve to generate further discussion.

One of the more extreme comments was posted by a visitor to a discussion forum thread entitled "Sodomy". The commenter stated that "men who cannot summon up the energy to abstain from intercourse with other men should be sentenced to death and hanged from posts in the town square." Although he did not remove it, Leifström did in fact criticise this statement and several others on the site's discussion forum.

According to the first court to hear the case, Stenungsund District Court, as website administrator he was guilty of "incitement against a group of people" for statements he himself had written, and for crime against "the law on electronic bulletin boards" for guest-messages which he neglected to delete.

The administrator, Leif Liljeström, told the court that his purpose is to preach the gospel and win people for Jesus, and that the truth was needed to awake people. Read more
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