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Appeals court reduces sentence for academic after hate campaign against journalist

The court ruled that Backman did not himself slander the journalist. 

MV -nettilehden etusivu.
The Yle journalist was subjected to an extensive hate campaign due to information published in the MV online magazine. Image: Yle

Helsinki Appeals Court has upheld the conviction of an academic for inciting a website to publish offensive material about an Yle journalist Jessikka Aro. The court acquitted Johan Backman of separate charges of slandering and stalking the journalist, however.

A twelve-month suspended prison sentence given by the district court was reduced to three months as a result.

The court ruled that Backman had encouraged the MV Lehti website to publish offensive material about Aro.

The appeal court ruled that Backman had provided the founder of MV Lehti, Ilya Janitskin, with a 2002 verdict against Aro that the website subsequently published.

According to the appeals court, that ruling had no relevance to Aro's current work as a journalist so there was no public interest defence for having published it.

The article published in February 2016 was published, according to the court, purely to damage Aro's reputation.

Following the publication of that article on Aro's conviction, she was the victim of a large-scale hate campaign, causing her great suffering.

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