Gísli Freyr Valdórsson, former political assistant to Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, confessed to the minister yesterday to having leaked confidential and sensitive information about an asylum seeker to the media one year ago.
On RÚV’s news magazine Kastljós Gísli stated that had been caught up in a “web of lies” and couldn’t live with a guilty conscience anymore. He also couldn’t bear to watch his colleagues at the ministry questioned in court.
Gísli took sole responsibility for the leak but claimed that he hadn’t known releasing the information was illegal. He called the leak a case of “poor judgment.”
His motive had been to show a different side of the story, he explained, as the media coverage of the asylum seeker, who was to be deported, was one-sided, and defend the administration’s decision.
Gísli stated he feels horrible about having failed the minister’s trust and about his actions having harmed her political position.
Hanna Birna released a statement saying Gísli’s confession had come as a surprise. She said she considers his breach of confidence to be very serious—especially since he has repeatedly maintained his innocence in the past year—and that he has been suspended.
Katrín Jakobsdóttir, chair of opposition party the Left-Green Movement, commented that the minister has to take political responsibility for her assistant’s actions.
Chair of the Pirate Party Birgitta Jónsdóttir Hirt wrote on her Facebook page that Hanna Birna had lied to the parliament and should resign immediately. Her party is preparing a new vote of no confidence on Hanna Birna.
Stefán Karl Kristjánsson, the asylum seeker’s lawyer, told ruv.is that Gísli’s confession may affect two trials which are connected to the leak affair. The asylum seeker is suing the Icelandic state and is hoping to return to the country.