Indian authorities deny coercing Swedish paper


Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter claimed on Wednesday that the Indian authorities pressurized the paper to retract sections of President Pranab Mukherjee’s interview, where he mentions the Bofors scam.

The paper’s editor-in-chief Peter Wolodarski said that he received an official letter from the Indian ambassador in Stockholm who expressed disappointment in the interview, as reported by the paper. “In a telephone conversation with DN prior to the publication of the article the Ambassador made a direct request that DN was to retract sections of the interview mentioning Bofors. She also warned that the planned state visit was at risk of being cancelled.”

Responding to this, Wolodarski said,”We couldn’t accept her demands. The President became engaged and was upset when Bofors was mentioned during a question regarding how we can avoid corruption today. Of course we had to tell our readers about his reaction.”

As reported earlier, in an interview with Dagens Nyhetter on Tuesday, Mukherjee said, “First of all – it is yet to be to be established that there was a scandal. No Indian court has established it. I was the defence minister of the country long after Bofors, and all my generals certified that this is one of the best guns we are having. Till today, Indian army is using it. The so-called scandal which you talk of, yes, in the media, it was there. There was a media trial. But I’m afraid, let us not be too much carried by publicity.”

However, Indian authorities have denied pressurizing the newspaper and dismissed the claim as a communication gap. “This is a case of miscommunication. We did not ask for a retraction on the Bofors issue, we stand by what he has said,” an official of the Ministry of External Affairs told The Hindu in response to Dagens Nyheter’s claims. The Ministry of External Affairs further said that even though prior to the interview the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter said they would not ask questions on the Bofors issue, they still went ahead with it, but President Pranab Mukherjee answered that question. “The retraction was about the off the record reference where President Mukherjee inadvertently mixed up Sweden and Switzerland,” added an official.

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