A TV2 reporter was assaulted in Christiania yesterday, causing a media frenzy throughout the country. The man was in Christiania in connection with with parliament's legal affairs committee’s visit, which included the somewhat surreal sight of Dansk Folkeparti's leader, Pia Kjærsgaard, strolling through the alternative commune. But as it turns out, the reporter also had an alternate motive for being there. Equipped with a hidden camera in his watch, the reporter attempted to expose drug sales on Pusher Street – Christiania's open-air cannabis market. His actions clearly did not go over well with the dealers.
According to Ekstra Bladet tabloid, the reporter acted rather suspiciously and when confronted, his hidden camera came to light, unleashing a serious of disturbing events. His assailants were quick to steal his camera and mobile phone, and proceeded to force him to get undressed. He was then driven out of Christiania, naked as the day he was born.
The reporter in question is so far refraining from speaking out to the media. Mikkel Hertz, his boss and the head of TV2 News, has been speaking on his behalf.
"It has been uncomfortable and intimidating for him,” Hertz told public broadcaster DR. “We are, of course, providing him with the help he needs, we support him and have offered counselling."
TV2 has notified the police about the violent assault and robbery, which may have damaged more than the reporter.
"We consider the case to be of a serious nature and feel that the police should as well,” Hertz told DR. He added that he is concerned not only about his employee but about repercussions the incident might have on the relationship between the media and Christiania. Hertz claimed that his journalists have experience “similar incidents”.
When speaking to the journalism trade news portal Journalisten, however, Hertz dialled that back by saying that TV2 reporters have been harassed before in Christiania but not to this extreme.
Although an assailant has not been identified, according to Hertz, there is plenty of blame to go around.
"It is my clear impression that it was the biker types who carried out the attack," he told Journalisten. "But it is also my clear impression that there were plenty of Christianites around him, and not a single one lifted a finger."
The lack of empathy has, according to Hertz, deeply affected the reporter. “That is also something that has shaken him. He got no help,” Hertz told Journalisten.
Hertz said that he stands by the reporter’s clandestine actions, claiming that the use of hidden cameras comes with the territory. He also explained that the reporter had the qualifications and experience to take on this sort of task. Hertz went on to criticise the media’s reaction to the violent and traumatic assault.
"I think it's crazy that several media outlets have tried to ridicule the reporter − as if he stuck his nose out too far out and somehow deserved it”, he said. “He set out to cover a relevant issue and make recordings in the public domain.”
This case is yet to be fully investigated, but Hertz said it fully exposed Christiania’s violent conduct towards the media.
“This is something that could happen in the Ukraine! But it happened in the King’s Copenhagen” Hertz told Journalisten.
Violence and intimidation in Christiania has been in focus as of late, following the news that the area's resurgent drug trade is estimated to generate one billion kroner a year. Many feel that is due to the criminal element – led largely by the Hells Angels – controlling the market, leading to a rougher and more intimidating culture throughout Christiania.