Aftonbladet editor admits: No evidence

Helin: I approved organ-trafficking story "because it raises questions;" denies being anti-Semitic.

jan helin Aftonbladet  248 88 (photo credit: )
jan helin Aftonbladet 248 88
(photo credit: )
Sweden's Aftonbladet newspaper, which caused a stir in recent days with an article claiming IDF soldiers were harvesting organs from Palestinians, published an editorial on Monday addressing Israeli criticism. "I'm not a Nazi," editor Jan Helin wrote. "I'm not anti-Semitic." Instead, he described himself as "a responsible editor who gave the green light to an article because it raises a few questions." He did note, however, that the paper had no evidence that such horrific practices were being carried out. On Sunday, Aftonbladet published a follow-up article, defending the controversial report written by freelance journalist Donald Bostrom. The second article maintained that the organ-harvesting allegation "should be investigated, either to stop the relentless Palestinian rumors, or, if the rumors prove to be true, stop the trade in body parts." The article also called Swedish Ambassador to Israel Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier's condemnation of the original piece a "disgrace." Helin's editorial came amid an avalanche of Israeli condemnations of Stockholm's refusal to condemn the article. However, though Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz on Sunday intimated that Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt may not be welcome in Israel for a meeting planned for early next month, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said there were no plans to scuttle the visit. In an article published on Friday, Arab media site Menassat interviewed Bostrom. He emphasized there was "no conclusive evidence" that organ harvesting was a systematic IDF practice, but rather a "collection of allegations and suspicious circumstances." "The point is that we know there is organ trafficking in Israel. And we also know that there are families claiming that their children's organs have been harvested. These two facts together point to the need for further investigation," Bostrom was quoted as saying.