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Court rejects Yle journalist’s request for restraining order

The court weighed the right to free speech and ruled against prohibiting online messages, articles and programmes.

Jessikka Aro
Jessikka Aro Image: Laura Pohjavirta / Yle

The Helsinki District Court has denied Yle Journalist Jessikka Aro’s application for a restraining order against two individuals whom she accused of harassment and even persecution.

According to Aro’s application, since 2018, the duo has commented on Aro’s life and work in a manner that she said caused her fear and anxiety.

Aro is an award-winning investigative journalist well-known for her reporting on Russian disinformation activities. She won a court case against anti-immigrant agitator Ilja Janitskin and his MV-lehti site following an online harassment campaign that targeted her and others. Janitskin later appealed his guilty verdict.

The court ruled that the restraining order was justifiable on the grounds that Aro experienced the actions of the man and woman, who called themselves journalists, as seriously disturbing, even provoking fear and anxiety.

On the other hand, the court reasoned that any physical and direct disturbances that Aro experienced during speaking and other public engagements were not very serious.

The court also considered the question of free speech. In its decision it ruled that according to free speech laws it is not possible to prohibit the publication of online messages, programmes and articles.

A restraining order prevents a person from contacting the applicant to protect his or her life, health, freedom or peace. The penalty for violating a restraining order is a fine or a maximum of two years in prison.

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