Finland’s standing in global press freedom rankings will take another blow this year after the police carried out without a court order a Helsingin Sanomat reporter Laura Halminen’s personal and company phones, computer and iPad, and a large number of USB flash drives, reports YLE News. The search was carried out after Finland’s biggest daily published leaked classified documents from the secretive Defense Forces’ Intelligence Research Center.
Writes YLE News: “During the search, which was carried out without a court order, police seized Halminen’s personal phone, her company phone, her personal computer, and iPad, as well as a large number of USB flash drives. Police also reportedly searched through her bookshelves and kitchen ventilation, but did not search her children’s room.”
Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom ranking list.
Halminen was obliged to destroy the hard drive of her computer to protect her source(s).
“By destroying the device,” she was quoted as saying in YLE News, “I wanted to ensure the confidentiality of my sources as well as possible.”
The editor-in-chief of YLE, Riikka Venäläinen, and business daily Kauppalehti Aarno Ahosniemi, together with Helsingin Sanomat’s editor-in-chief, Kaius Niemi, expressed concern over the actions of the police.
“Concern” over what happened is putting it lightly and being too kind to the police and to politicians who loathe openness. The actions of the police, with the most likely backing of President Sauli Niinistö and Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö, who would probably send journalists to a firing squad if we lived in the 1930s, is a blow to press freedom in Finland.
Prime Minister Juha Sipiläs caused Finland’s ranking in the press freedom rankings to fall from first to third place earlier this year after he tried to influence the reporting of a story on his family’s business dealings.
During Prime Minister Sipilä’s mandate, Finland’s standing in human rights, social inequality, and press freedom have suffered big blows.
A thesis published by Mike Hofman in 2014 titled, “Media censorship in Finland during the Cold War,” shows how censorship happened in this country. There is a lot written in Hofman’s thesis about the Finnish foreign ministry’s role in ensuring that reporters gave the “right” picture of Finnish-Soviet relations.