Three Helsingin Sanomat journalists are being prosecuted for disclosing and attempting to disclose a national secret.
Two Helsingin Sanomat investigative journalists and a journalist who was acting editor at the time are being prosecuted for disclosing and attempting to disclose a national secret.
The police investigation that led to the prosecution was prompted by an article published by Helsingin Sanomat in December 2017 on the activities of the Finnish Intelligence Research Centre, which is operated by the Finnish Defence Forces. Prosecution of Kaius Niemi, Senior Editor-in-Chief, and Esa Mäkinen, Managing Editor, at Helsingin Sanomat was waived.
“The threat of imprisoning three Helsingin Sanomat journalists undermines press freedom in Finland,” says Kaius Niemi, Senior Editor-in-Chief at Helsingin Sanomat.
“We are very disappointed by and concerned about this situation, where three of our journalists are under threat of imprisonment for doing their job of communicating information in a country such as Finland. The three journalists have not disclosed national secrets. All the information published by HS is available from public sources,” Niemi states.
“It is untenable in an open western democracy that there are attempts to criminalise journalistic work like this. We fully stand behind our journalists,” Niemi says.
“According to the prosecutor’s press release, the prosecution would also concern the preparation of unpublished articles. This is completely exceptional and practically amounts to preventive censorship,” Niemi says.
In December 2017, Helsingin Sanomat published an in-depth article on the Finnish Intelligence Research Centre, which conducts military intelligence operations. The article provided background information on this branch of intelligence less known to the public. At the time, an exceptional legislative project was underway in Finland to urgently amend the Constitution. The intelligence legislation reform was intended to give intelligence organisations very extensive powers to monitor network traffic, which would curtail fundamental rights. There were strong social grounds for writing the article.
After the article was published, the police launched a pre-trial investigation into the case. The home of one of the journalists was searched, and the legality of these coercive measures was eventually the subject of Supreme Court proceedings on two occasions.
Already during the pre-trial investigation, the police stated that the journalists had not obtained the information by unlawful means.
“I find this situation regrettable. Sanoma strongly supports its journalists targeted by legal action,” says Pia Kalsta, CEO of Sanoma Media Finland.
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