Two sisters were arrested by police for allegedly attempting to blackmail Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson.
The sisters, one of whom is a journalist at newspaper Morgunbladid, were released on their own recognizance after admitting to sending the premier a hand-written note demanding money, the police said in a statement on Tuesday. The women, born in 1981 and 1977, were arrested on Friday in the town of Hafnarfjordur, near the capital Reykjavik.
“In an interrogation, the women admitted to having sent the letter in question,” police said. “After the investigation is completed it will be sent to the state’s prosecutor.”
The sisters claimed to have proof that Gunnlaugsson had last year been involved in buying DV, Iceland’s oldest newspaper, and demanded a pay-off to conceal the alleged transaction. The newspaper was bought in November by Bjorn Ingi Hrafnsson.
“The letter threatened that information harmful to me would be made public if I wouldn’t pay millions of kronur to the author and his accomplice,” Gunnlaugsson said in an e-mailed statement. “It’s right to note that I’ve got no financial relations with Bjorn Ingi Hrafnsson, nor did I have involvement in Vefpressan’s acquisition of DV in any way.”
Hrafnsson also said the prime minister didn’t finance the purchase and that he owns no shares in the newspaper.
“I’m grief-stricken over today’s news,” he said on his Facebook page.
Hrafnsson is one of the owners of Vefpressan, which owns DV and news websites including Pressan.is, Eyjan.is and Bleikt.is. One of the sisters was an editor at Bleikt.is.
Hrafnsson declined to comment further when contacted via Facebook. The sisters couldn’t be reached for a comment by phone or via message.