US Embassy Accuses Icelandic Newspaper of Irresponsible Journalism and Fake News Skip to content
Photo: US Embassy Reykjavik Iceland, Facebook.

US Embassy Accuses Icelandic Newspaper of Irresponsible Journalism and Fake News

The US embassy in Iceland accused Icelandic newspaper Fréttablaðið of irresponsible journalism and fake news in posts on Twitter and Facebook yesterday. Earlier that day, Fréttablaðið reported that a staff member of the US Embassy had contracted COVID-19. In its social media posts, the US Embassy has confirmed that a local employee caught the virus.

Yesterday, Fréttablaðið reported that an embassy employee had contracted COVID-19 but nevertheless, all embassy employees were asked to come in to work next Sunday to help move the embassy to its new location in Engjateigur. US Ambassador to Iceland Jeffrey Ross Gunter had moved up the move to ensure that they would be done in time for the US presidential election next Tuesday. Fréttablaðið spoke to Kristinn Gilsdorf with the embassy’s public affairs office who stated he did not know about any infection. Fréttablaðið’s inquiry was forwarded to the Embassy’s Regional Security Office but had not received a reply.

The Facebook post asks whether fake news has arrived in Iceland and claims Fréttablaðið’s journalism is irresponsible and shameful to see. The post goes on: “Long after the dedication [of the new US Embassy], a single case of COVID-19 was caught by a local employee. The source of the infection was traced back to an Icelandic school outbreak.” The post also claims that Iceland has one of the highest COVID-19 rates in Europe and that the US Embassy is one of the safest havens from COVID-19 in Reykjavík. While Iceland is currently in the midst of the pandemic’s third wave, it’s 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100 000 is currently at 213,3. That is considerably lower than France’s 706, Belgium’s 1,600, the United Kingdom’s 437.7, and Spain’s 508.6, to name a few, according to the ECDC.

Donald Trump appointed Jeffrey Ross Gunter as US Ambassador to Iceland in 2018 after the position had been vacant for a year and a half. He recently made headlines in Iceland as well as his home country for his security concerns.

The US Embassy post on Facebook’s caption was published in both English and Iceland and can be read in full below.

“Has Fake News Arrived in Iceland?
America has succeeded with the #NewUSEmbassy completed and dedicated while having Zero COVID-19 infections ever in the entire U.S. Embassy history. It is shameful to see Fréttablaðið’s irresponsible journalism. Long after the dedication, a single case of COVID-19 was caught by a local employee. The source of the infection was traced back to an Icelandic school outbreak. Iceland has tragically one of the highest COVID-19 rates in Europe. It is terrible and sad that Fake News Fréttablaðið would be so unprofessional and disrespectful in using COVID-19 for political purposes during this crisis. The U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik Iceland has always been and is one of the SAFEST havens from COVID-19 in #Reykjavik.

Eru falsfréttir komin til Íslands?
Ameríka náði að vígja nýja sendiráðið án COVID-19 smits. Skömmin er núna hjá Fréttablaðinu fyrir ábyrgðarlausan blaðamennska. Löngu eftir vígslu kom upp eitt tilfelli vegna smits í íslenskum skóla. Smittíðnin á Íslandi er með því hæsta í Evrópu. Ömurlegt að Fals-Fréttablaðið væru svo ófagmannlegt og sýnir virðingarleysi með því að nota COVID-19 í pólitískum tilgangi. Bandaríska sendiráðið hefur alltaf verið og er öruggasta athvarfið frá COVID-19 í Reykjavík.”

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