Position statement regarding the legal proceedings against Helsingin Sanomat newspaper

RSF Finland follows with preoccupation the legal case brought against three journalists at the Finnish daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat (HS). All three are accused of revealing secrets pertaining to national security and attempts to reveal secrets pertaining to national security.

RSF Finland does neither address the functioning of the district court nor question its independence. RSF Finland does not take a position whether acts amounting to crime have been committed or not.

RSF Finland considers that the main argument put forward by the legal defence that a single journalist cannot take decisions whether an article is published or not does comply with the praxis of editorial processes in free and responsible media. The decision about publishing is ultimately taken by the editor-in-chief.

RSF Finland is troubled by the criminal complaint regarding unpublished material. Presently only published articles can be challenged and by filing the criminal complaint the current praxis is obfuscated.

RSF Finland underscores that the criminal complaints brought against the journalists and the legal case against HS have already stifled the functioning of free press as ambiguity of the boundaries for freedom of speech increases confusion and self-censorship in editorial rooms.

In a state governed by rule of law and embracing democratic principles this development is alarming.