Manga Translator Acquitted of Child Pornography Charges In Swedish Supreme Court Ruling

June 15, 2012
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Swedish news outlet The Local reports that their Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of manga translator Simon Lundström on child pornography charges relating to manga files on his computer. The court’s decision reflects the viewpoint of free speech advocates, including the CBLDF, that sexually explicit manga images are protected artistic expression and not child pornography. The court stated, “The criminalization of possession of the drawings would otherwise exceed what is necessary with regard to the purpose which has led to the restriction on freedom of expression and freedom of information.”

The Local reports:

Lundström, described by Swedish media as a top manga expert, was found guilty by two lower courts of having 39 drawings portraying figures in sexual poses stored on the hard drive of his computer.

In his initial trial, he explained that he had retrieved the pictures in order to stay up to date with the latest developments in the Japanese comic genre.

A district court fined him 25,000 kronor ($3,500) but an appeals court lowered the sum to 5,600 kronor.

CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein welcomed the ruling, stating, “This is an important victory for free expression and for manga. The Swedish Supreme Court has correctly drawn the boundary that governments have a compelling interest in prosecuting criminal behavior, not ideas or expression. Child pornography is an abhorrent crime because real people are harmed, and the creation, distribution and possession of that content are criminal behaviors that contribute to creating victims. Today’s ruling that drawings of an imaginative nature where no victim is created cannot be child pornography is clear-minded and will hopefully provide guidance here in the United States and around the world when similar cases arise in the future. We congratulate Mr. Lundström and his attorney Leif Silbersky for their courageous efforts in reaching this important decision.”