Can A Government Employee Have Political Views?

An employee of the Swedish Migration Board was demoted for expressing pro-Israel views on his blog. Lennart Eriksson has worked for the Board over the past 21 years and expressed views in support of Israel on his blog and condemned a counsel for the Board for terming Hamas as a “liberation movement.” His supervisor, Eugene Palmer, said, “of course everyone has a right to any opinion. However, when holding an upper-level management position at the Migration Board, one must be careful how one chooses to express private opinions in a public fashion.” Staffan Opitz, representing the Migration Board at a hearing in a court, termed Hamas as a “liberation movement.”

The issue is not whether or not Hamas is or is not a “liberation movement” since people from various perspectives hold differing views about Hamas. A statement by the Migration Board terming Hamas to be such a movement certainly raises questions about its own neutrality. A member of Parliament, Annelie Enochson points out the Migration Board stand contradicts the foreign policy of the Swedish government. Should leaders of the Migration Board be demoted?

Hamas is many things to many people. Certainly, Mr. Eriksson has a right to express his opinion just as the Migration Board has a right to take a stand. The only issue is does the Migration Board have any evidence the pro-Israel bias of Mr. Eriksson resulted in personal views leading to the denial of the rights of a person seeking a judgment from the Migration Board? Actions determine free speech, not free speech.