Kiev intelligence tried to coerce reporter into joining its propaganda
Matilde Kimer, a correspondent for Denmark’s public service broadcaster, reveals that Ukraine’s intelligence service asked her to make pro-Ukraine propaganda to prove she was not pro-Russian.
A report published by The Intercept said Denmark’s leading chronicler of the war in Ukraine, Matilde Kimer, revealed last week that Ukraine’s intelligence service had canceled her work permit and "would only return it if she agreed to let the spy agency direct her reporting."
According to Kimer, an award-winning Moscow correspondent for Denmark’s broadcaster, DR, the proposal was presented to her by an officer from the Security Service of Ukraine, during a meeting this month in Kiev that two diplomats from the Danish Embassy attended.
Frontlinjen i Donbas - ikke langt fra Sjeverodonetsk.— Matilde Kimer (@matildekimer) June 4, 2022
Ødelæggelser og konstant beskydning.
Og her en soldat der er blevet alt for vant til de høje brag: pic.twitter.com/IXoStEJAUm
"The diplomats had brokered the meeting as part of an effort to help Kimer find out why Ukraine had suddenly canceled her accreditation in August, shortly after she made a reporting trip to the front lines around Mykolaiv, a strategically important Black Sea port where a Ukrainian counteroffensive had been playing out," the report said.
"After a misunderstanding at a checkpoint near the front line, which led to them being briefly detained for traveling without a military press officer, local officials had scoured the Danish journalist’s social media accounts," an interpreter who worked with Kimer in Mykolaiv told the Ukrainian news site Zaborona, as per the report.
The fact that Kimer had been based in Moscow for over 10 years, her social media pages are full of pictures and reports on official speeches by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the 2018 World Cup in Russia, as well as daily life in "Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, including Donetsk and Crimea."
"That, apparently, was enough for some Ukrainian soldiers to suspect that Kimer might be a Russian sympathizer," the report added.
Still, a senior military press officer eventually assured the correspondent that she was free to continue reporting and returned to Nikolaiv, where she filed two short dispatches from the front line.
Weeks later, the Ukrainian military sent Kimer an email stating that her "press credential allowing her to work there had been canceled, without explanation, at “the request of the Security Service of Ukraine,” the report said.
Kimer spent the next three months "trying to get an explanation for why she was suddenly barred from reporting," and eventually, her boss Niels Kvale enlisted help from Denmark’s foreign ministry, and "Kimer was invited to the SBU headquarters in Kiev."
Before the meeting, Kimer posted on her Facebook page she had heard from three sources that “the security service considers me pro-Russian — and perhaps even a Russian agent.”
Kimer added that Kvale told her by phone from Copenhagen that “lots of different accusations were made against" her, due to "random photos from her social media profile, Facebook, primarily, photos that were taken by a photojournalist, her colleague, who went with her to Donetsk back in 2017.”
According to Kimer’s own Facebook account, an intelligence officer told her that photos she posted on the social network from a May 9 Victory Day parade in Donetsk "was suspicious because it showed people and vehicles adorned in what the Ukrainians consider 'illegal Soviet propaganda.'"
When Kimer and the Danish diplomats asked how she could convince the intelligence service that she was not a Russian propagandist, the official said that "Kimer would have to agree to produce a series of 'good stories' about the war, based entirely on video and photographs provided to her by the SBU, and post them on her Facebook page to prove that she was not pro-Russian."
“she has been offered one solution. She says that the security service will reassess her case if she agrees to write what they call "good stories" about 🇺🇦. She has to use the material that the security service provides.— Henrik Moltke (@moltke) December 19, 2022
@matildekimer has refused that.”https://t.co/ulAnoayQNA
Kimer told the intelligence officer that she couldn’t base her reports on someone else’s material and that she needed to meet in person with her sources. Consequently, "the meeting ended abruptly," the report said.
That obliged Kimer to report that the Ukrainian intelligence service had tried to coerce her into joining its propaganda effort, the report said, "even if that might make it impossible for her to ever get her accreditation back."
Kvale explained the reason why they felt the story had to be told, saying "we feel that this is an attack on our independence and the freedom of the press,” adding, “We didn’t really feel like we had any choice but to say publicly that this situation arose and this happened at this meeting.”