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Court finds two HS journalists guilty of disclosing state secrets

One of the defendants received a fine in relation to the publication of an article about an intelligence centre in 2017, while charges against a third journalist were dismissed.

Seurue menossa hissiin.
The defendants in the case were Helsingin Sanomat journalists. File photo. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle
Yle News

Helsinki District Court has found two Helsingin Sanomat journalists guilty of disclosing state secrets in relation to an article published by the newspaper in 2017.

In its ruling delivered on Friday afternoon, the court said that the journalists who wrote the article — Laura Halminen and Tuomo Pietiläinen — unveiled several pieces of information concerning military intelligence that had been classified as secret in the interests of Finland's external security.

The article reported on the operations of an intelligence facility located in Central Finland, which gathered intelligence by intercepting signals for the Finnish Defence Forces.

The court ruled that Pietiläinen was the main author of the article, and ordered him to pay 50 income-linked day fines. Halminen, although found guilty, did not receive a fine as the court deemed she played a lesser role in the compiling of the article.

Charges against a third defendant, Kalle Silfverberg, were dismissed.

Silfverberg headed up the politics desk at HS at the time the article was published, but the court found he could not be considered as guilty of disclosing state secrets, or even be charged as an accomplice.

The court also dismissed a separate charge against all three defendants of attempting to disclose state secrets in relation to draft articles that were intended for later publication.

The prosecution had demanded that all three receive suspended prison sentences of at least one and a half years, arguing that the defendants were aware that the story contained classified information related to Finland's external security.

The three journalists denied any wrongdoing, with their defence stating that no state secrets were revealed in the article.

The verdict delivered by the court on Friday is not final, meaning both sides have an opportunity to appeal.

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