A positive spin to the October 16 Lao Airlines crash made newspaper headlines in a Finland and Denmark on the basis of a story about a Scandinavian man who could have been on the ill-fated plane if he had not been hospitalized for malaria, and survived. It turned out the story was pure fabrication.
“Malaria saved his life” was the blaring headline on the Swedish-language Finnish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet earlier this week, and the next day Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet published a story with a similar headline and story.
The only difference between the two versions of the story, both written by Swedish freelance journalist Jan Johansson, was the name of the “lucky” man, who in the Finnish version was called Jarmo Niskanen and in the Danish one, Ole Jacobsen, said Ekstra Bladet.
According to Ekstra Bladet the Swedish journalist claimed to have spoken to a Ole Jacobsen at a hospital in Vientiane. He attached a photo of the man in his hospital bed, his personal details and a copy of his flight ticket for Lao Airlines airliner that crashed in southern Laos.
But it emerged that the story was more than a bit shaky. After Ekstra Bladet had published the story, the Danish newspaper was contacted by several Finnish newspapers, who said they had been offered the exact same story, but with a Finn as the main character.
According to Ekstra Bladet, the number of the flight ticket does exist, but that it was originally issued to the Swedish journalist Jan Johansson himself for a flight from Vientiane to Bangkok on 14 October.
It appeared that Jan Johansson had tampered with the flight ticket before sending photos of it to the different news papers.
On Wednesday, the Swedish journalist admitted that he made up the fake news articles in an e-mail to Ekstra Bladet.
Read the original article, here. (only in Danish)