TALLINN - The Estonian president’s chancellery refuted on March 16 claims published in the British newspaper The Telegraph that President Toomas Hendrik Ilves lobbied to censor the book of Toby Harnden “Dead Men Risen,” about the Afghanistan war, reports Postimees Online. The Telegraph wrote that Nick Gurr, the British Ministry of Defense’s director of media and communications, left a voicemail for Mark Smith, manager of Quercus, the publisher of the book, that President Ilves talked to the American ambassador about the Harnden book and that “the Estonian president has got involved in all of this and has lobbied the U.S. ambassador.”
The president’s chancellery said that the book had been discussed at a meeting of President Ilves with U.S. and ISAF leading state ambassadors in Tallinn, as in the initial version of it there was delicate health information about Estonian soldiers who were injured and killed in Afghanistan.
“President Ilves was worried that in a book that was written in cooperation with the British Ministry of Defense, information was revealed that impinges on the honor, dignity and inviolability of the private life of our soldiers, and also the feelings of the people close to injured and killed defense force members. This data was removed, or the people close to the killed men had been informed, when it concerned British soldiers,” the chancellery said.
The chancellery said that the president has nowhere and in no form demanded censoring of that book. “Defending the dignity and memory of our soldiers is the obligation of the Estonian state and we hope that all allies of Estonia have as respectful an attitude towards our defense forces members,” said Ilves.