Military psychologist to keep Afghan abuse secrets

A retired Danish psychologist has opted to pay a fine of DKK 45,000 (EUR 6,054) rather than reveal to a court what a former client told her about the abuse of prisoners in Afghanistan.

Copenhagen City Court ruled on Thursday 9th February that Merete Lindholm will pay DKK 500 a day for a maximum of three months, dating from when she was held in contempt of court in October last year.

Lindholm refused to break the vow of confidentiality she made to her client, who was sent to Afghanistan in 2002 as a military interpreter. After his return, the he told military investigators that he had witnessed the abuse of Afghan prisoners and that there was photographic evidence to prove it. He also apparently told Lindholm about the photos, but has since retracted his statement.

“What it comes down to is whether I will still be able to look myself in the eye in terms of the pledge of confidentiality I have with all my clients. I can’t break that now, so I guess I’ll have to pay the price. And what price is too high to be able to look yourself in the eye?” Lindholm said in a report by the Copenhagen Post.

The case caused much controversy last year when the Danish Psychological Association (DPA) changed its earlier position and urged Lindholm to break the confidentiality rule. The DPA was bombarded with thousands of complaints from members who said the trustworthiness and reputation of the profession would be jeopardised by such actions.