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Baugur threatens lawsuits

The parties involved in the Baugur case continue to battle in the Icelandic media.

Late last night, the Baugur camp announced that they are preparing to sue for damages against five individuals in connection with events leading to the Baugur case. Baugur will also investigate whether there are grounds for an official inquiry relating to the conduct of the five individuals.

Since last weekend Baugur-owned Fréttabladid has published numerous emails, acquired from anonymous sources, connecting leading members of the Independence Party to the Baugur case. Morgunbladid has retaliated by publishing confidential documents from Baugur.

The five individuals Baugur plans to sue are: Styrmir Gunnarsson, longtime editor of the Morgunbladid; Jónína Benediktsdóttir, the former girlfriend of Baugur CEO’s father; Jón Gerald Sullenberger, one time business partner of Baugur who filed charges against Baugur management after falling out with Baugur CEO Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson; chief executive of the Independence Party, Kjartan Gunnarsson; and recently appointed Supreme Court Judge, Jón Steinar Gunnlaugsson, a close friend of David Oddsson’s, and also the lawyer of Jón Gerald Sullenberger.

In a statement Baugur chairman, Hreinn Loftsson, said that Mogunbladid has shown its face and it is evident that the paper is not the neutral media it has pretended to be.

In a separate matter, Hreinn Loftsson admitted that Baugur paid Jón Gerald ISK 120 million for ending the US court case between Baugur and Jón Gerald in 2002.

Hreinn also answers accusations that a private investigator was used to gather information about Jón Gerald Sullenberger. In a story on the front page of today’s Fréttabladid he explains that it was not a private investigator but “a specialist in collecting information” hired by Baugur’s US law office.

Yesterday, Jónína Benediktsdóttir announced that she has filed charges with the police in connection with excerpts from her private emails that were published in the Baugur-owned Fréttabladid over the past few days.

Morgunbladid continues its coverage of the Baugur case and publishes a detailed article on the communications law. The law states that whoever receives a telegram, pictures or other communication signals by chance, by accident or without special permission, is not allowed to make any use whatsoever of the information.

Fréttabladid continues to publish excerpts from personal emails. Today, it published numerous emails from former Baugur CEO Tryggvi Jónsson to Jón Gerald Sullenberger. In one email Tryggvi offers Jón Gerald therapeutic advice by citing a passage of a popular Icelandic pop song: “God helps those who help themselves/ those sacred words have been written/ God helps those who help themselves/one little bee disproves that fact/ God helps those who help others”. Tryggvi concludes the email “whether you believe it or not, I sign this letter as Your friend, Tryggvi.”

In 2003, Gudfinna Bjarnadóttir, Dean of Reykjavík University, and Thorgeir Baldursson, CEO of printing company Oddi, resigned from Baugur’s board of directors after Fréttabladid published information from confidential board documents.

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