Swedish PM Sues Ryanair Over Newspaper Ad

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Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson and former Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds have sued Irish-based low-cost airline Ryanair for using their faces in a newspaper advertisement without permission, a government spokeswoman said Thursday.

Persson and Freivalds are demanding 75,000 kronor (about euro8,000; US$10,000) each in damages for an ad showing the their pictures above the text, “Time to flee the country?” government spokeswoman Camila Buzaglo said.

The ad, which touted low fares on international flights, was published in Sweden’s major newspaper on Feb. 27 at a time when the Social Democratic government was under heavy media pressure to explain perceived shortcomings in its handling of international crises like the 2004 tsunami disaster and the prophet cartoon uproar this year.

Freivalds resigned March 21 after she was accused of lying about her role in the closing of a right-wing Web site that solicited cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

The lawsuit filed in the Stockholm District Court claims the ad was insulting and offensive to Persson and Freivalds.

Ryanair’s Swedish spokeswoman Lotta Lindquist-Brosjo did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

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