Former Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir released a statement yesterday afternoon confirming the news that she had requested to be released from her duties as minister because of the leak affair. However, the decision was personal, not political, she says.
“A year has passed since the course of events in the so-called leak affair began. … It is [now] clear that my assistant committed a violation without my knowledge. … I had no reason to question his repeated declarations of innocence for almost an entire year and I reacted accordingly. His confession … was a great personal shock and I obviously would have reacted differently in various stages of the affair had I known the truth,” Hanna Birna writes.
Hanna Birna goes on to state that from the beginning, she had been particular about her actions, cooperated with the police and always told what she knew to be the truth. However, in the past few days she had come to realize that none of that mattered because “certain persons and powers” will continue to use the affair to spread doubt about her integrity and maintain accusations against her, the former minister explains.
“Unfortunately, too many people have been dragged into the affair repeatedly and unfairly, the latest being the undersecretary of the Ministry of the Interior, current chief of Reykjavík Metropolitan Police and other officials. They did not, no more than I, have any knowledge of the violation,” Hanna Birna maintains.
“I have always had the dream in politics to be able change them and make them better … but I would never have thought that the wrath of the debate could reach such levels and make life so difficult for myself and my family,” the former minister writes, stating that time and time again she has had to explain to friends and family that she is all right and make sure that her daughters don’t read libelous comments about her in the media. Now, she and her husband had jointly decided that this would have to stop.
“To create peace surrounding the ministry’s work and to spare those who have suffered because of the affair I have announced to the Independence Party’s chair that I request to quit as minister,” Hanna Birna announced. “He was understanding, because this is much rather a personal than political decision.”
Hanna Birna thanked everyone who have showed her support and encouraged her to continue, especially Bjarni Benediktsson, minister of finance and chair of the Independence Party, and both coalition parties. She will now take a short break from politics but return to parliament as an MP in January and will continue to serve the party as vice-chair.
The former minister concluded her statement by saying that she would not discuss the matter with the media yesterday but intended to spend the day with her family.