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Two Yle journalists resign citing limits on freedom of speech

Two Yle journalists have resigned from the company over what they say are restrictions on their freedom of speech and a working culture hostile to journalistic practices. The two had published stories about Prime Minister Juha Sipilä's family links to a subcontractor of the state-owned and state-subsidised ex-Talvivaara mine, but disputed editorial decisions to shelve follow-up stories.

Jussi Eronen Image: Yle

Two Yle journalists have resigned from the company citing irreconcilable differences with the editor-in-chief of News and Current Affairs, Atte Jääskeläinen. Jussi Eronen, Team Manager at the Current Affairs and Features team, and Salla Vuorikoski, a journalist in that team, both resigned on Wednesday with immediate effect in an ongoing row over freedom of speech and journalistic practises at Yle.

"I'm leaving my post as the Team Manager of the Current Affairs unit, as my freedom of speech is limited," said Eronen in a post on Facebook. "I cannot do my work in line with my values and the journalistic guidelines."

Editor-in-chief Jääskeläinen said the departure was down to a clash of values.

"It looks like he cannot accept Yle's journalistic principles and values," said Jääskeläinen. "Yle has produced quality investigative journalism for years, and will do in future. When investigative reporting is done, it's crucial to ensure that the claims are true. That kind of care is not limiting freedom of speech."

One member of Eronen's team, Salla Vuorikoski, also resigned on Wednesday citing restrictions on her work. Vuorikoski had published a story about Prime Minister Juha Sipilä's family links to a sub-contractor of Terrafame, a struggling state-owned mining firm kept afloat by government injections of cash. Sipilä had then sent around twenty angry emails to her and others at Yle.

Follow-up stories were shelved by senior management, who said their decisions were unrelated to Sipilä's outbursts, and early the following week all Yle discussion programmes were told not to discuss Sipilä's links to Terrafame.

Yle management said that decision was to give time and space to the Chancellor of Justice, who was asked to investigate whether Sipilä should have recused himself from decisions on funding Terrafame.

This item was updated at 1:34 PM local time with the addition of links to related Yle News coverage.