Pro-Israel Swedish Government Worker Fired for Second Time

In September 2007, Lennart Eriksson was fired from his job for his 'unusual' support for Israel, U.S.

A Swedish government employee who last year won a wrongful-dismissal suit after being fired for supporting Israel, was recently fired again - for "insufficient performance."

In November last year, the Molndal District Court ruled that the Swedish Migration Board had no acceptable reason for firing Lennart Eriksson, 51, in September 2007 from his position as head of an assessment unit processing applications by asylum seekers.

Eriksson's boss, Eugene Palmer, told Eriksson that the reason for his 2007 dismissal was Eriksson's "unusual" support for Israel and the U.S., which he expressed on his private blog. Immediately after his dismissal, Eriksson was hired to fill a less senior position in the Migration Board. The court ruled that this did not constitute a demotion, but a dismissal and reengagement.

The court recommended Eriksson be reinstated to the more senior position, but the Board opted instead to pay Eriksson severance pay amounting to 32 salaries, as permitted by Swedish law.

But last month, Eriksson was fired from that position as well, for "insufficient abilities and performance." Eriksson - who has held various positions within the Board since 1988 - told Haaretz that he believes his dismissal was "a case of blatant political persecution."

Eriksson has sued the Board again, alleging that by firing him, the organization was in breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Swedish Constitution, the Law on Security of Employment and the court's previous ruling.

A spokesman for the Board, Johan Rahm, said that although Eriksson's boss gave the blog as the reason for his dismissal, his "performance charts were not good." When asked about his performance, Eriksson said: "I can only say I am not perfect. But if errors were the reason for my dismissal, why did they not say so in court?"

In court, the Board maintained that, "A government employee dealing with refugees mustn't comment on conflicts that generate asylum seekers." At the final hearing, the Board's attorney, Staffan Opitz, said Hamas should be considered a "liberation movement."

Queried by Haaretz, Swedish MP Gunnar Axen, who chairs the standing committee on social insurance, said: "Eriksson's dismissal is very strange. I have never seen such behavior from any Swedish authority."