Icelandic newspaper accused of helping prostitutes

Bjorgvin Bjorgvinsson, head of the Icelandic police sexual crimes division, said yesterday that there is no doubt that the newspaper Frettabladid has been advertising prostitution in its classified ads section. The paper says it has done nothing wrong.

“I think there is no doubt about it. It has been known about for some time as the adverts clearly imply that this is no ordinary massage, this is hidden prostitution,” Bjorgvinsson told RUV. He added that the police are now investigating whether Frettabladid is guilty of selling prostitution.

The paper’s editor, Olafur Th. Stephensen, responded quickly; saying that his advertising department cannot be expected to investigate the origin and motive behind the many small ads that people want to put in the publication on a daily basis. But, he says, every time there is suspicion that an advert is actually for prostitution, the police are always informed.

“Our advertising department is of course not in charge of investigating such cases. It is legal to advertise massage and the ads which appear say they are for massage and nothing more. If the wording suggests otherwise, for example “happy ending”, then those ads are of course not printed. If people are only advertising massage then it is difficult for the advertising department to deal specifically with that. But if suspicions are raised of something shady then the advertising department has always passed the information on to the police and let them deal with it,” Stephensen says.

Stephensen believes disgused small ads for prostitution are similar to disguised ads for stolen goods in that it is extremely difficult for newspapers to spot and eradicate, DV reported. The only way to stop it would be to ban massage advertisement altogether, the editor says — and that could be the first step to banning all sorts of usually-innocent ads.