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Court hears anti-immigrant agitator Janitskin's appeal

Ilja Janitskin is seeking to reverse 16 convictions on charges ranging from incitement against an ethnic group to illicit fundraising.

Ilja Janitskin
Ilja Janitskin in court in June 2018. Janitskin did not attend Monday's opening appeal court session. Image: AOP

In October of 2018, the founder of the anti-immigration websites MV-lehti and Uber Uutiset, Ilja Janitskin, was found guilty of 16 criminal charges related to his websites. At that time, he was handed a prison sentence of one year and 10 months by Helsinki District Court and also ordered to pay the bulk of some 136,000 euros in damages awarded to harassment victims.

Janitskin was tried in Helsinki after being extradited to Finland from Andorra in April 2018.

Some 90 criminal complaints related to the sites were filed in connection with the original case, including aggravated defamation and ethnic agitation, as well as copyright infringement, breach of confidentiality, illicit gambling and illicit fundraising.

The court said that as the owner and editor-in-chief of the websites from 2014-2018 Janitskin was responsible for the content contained in, and crimes facilitated by, both the MV-lehti site and Uber Uutiset.

Denying responsibility

In his appeal, the defendant argues that he received an excessively harsh sentence for crimes which he claims he did not commit. Janitskin is claiming that he carried no responsibility for anything published on the websites, except for his own texts.

If the convictions are not reversed, Janitskin is asking for the court to reduce his jail time and commute it to a suspended sentence. He is also asking the court to reverse or reduce the lower court's damages he has been ordered to pay.

Two other individuals were convicted in the original case, receiving suspended prison sentences and orders to pay damages to their victims. Their appeals are also being heard by the Helsinki Appeal Court.

Prosecutors have objected to any change to the original rulings. The appeal case is expected to continue up until the end of October.

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