Manga Images Not CP, Sweden's Supreme Court Rules

Rhett Pardon

STOCKHOLM — Sweden's highest court on Friday overturned a child porn verdict against an artist who works with Japanese manga drawings.

The case involves Simon Lundberg, a comic book translator, who appealed his 2011 conviction of possessing child pornography after authorities found 39 drawings of characters in manga style in his computer.

In his initial trial, Lundberg explained that he had retrieved the pictures in order to stay up to date with the latest developments in the Japanese comic genre, which includes wide-eyes characters.  

On Friday, Sweden's Supreme Court acquitted Lundstrom on the charges, ruling that because the cartoons, despite being pornographic in nature, represent imaginary figures there is no way they could be mistaken for real children.

"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 court said in its ruling.

Lundgren, who was originally fined $3,500 by a lower court, was grateful for the high court's verdict.

"I think this is very positive because what the court has concluded is that fantasies are not illegal, no matter what," Lundberg said. "I'm obviously very relieved, in part because it makes life easier for me personally, but most of all I'm generally relieved for Sweden as a whole."