Finland Charges Journalists With Disclosing Defense Secrets
(Bloomberg) -- Finland, ranked world’s number 2 for freedom of the press, is pressing charges against three journalists for disclosure of a national secret.
Two investigative reporters and their supervisor at the Nordic country’s biggest newspaper Helsingin Sanomat face a prison sentence of as much as four years for the treasonable offense after the deputy prosecutor general filed charges on Friday. All three journalists deny the charges.
The case centers around a story published in late 2017 on the defense forces’ signals-intelligence operations, an area of heightened sensitivity as geo-political worries over neighboring Russia have grown in past years. The prosecutor also charged the journalists with “an attempted disclosure of a national secret” for their unpublished articles.
The daily’s Editor-in-Chief Kaius Niemi and a managing editor were also investigated but not charged.
“The threat of going to prison endangers press freedom in Finland,” Niemi said in a statement distributed by the newspaper’s publisher, Sanoma Oyj. “It’s untenable to see such an attempt to criminalize journalism in a western, open democracy.”
Niemi disputed that any national secrets were revealed, adding that all the information published by the newspaper was publicly available. A preliminary investigation by the police found that the journalists broke no laws during their reporting, Sanoma said.
Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark top the World Press Freedom index by Reporters Without Borders.
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