A member of the far-right group Nationalist Alliance (Kansallismielisten liittouma in Finnish) shared the home addresses of Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) and Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen with the intention that they would be the targets of harassment, an Yle investigation has revealed.
Yle also found evidence that the chair of the alliance, Tero Ala-Tuuhonen, exchanged messages with a sergeant at the Helsinki Police Department about a potentially violent confrontation with immigrants.
The details of both incidents came to light during a police investigation into the attempted murder of Finns Party aide Pekka Kataja last year, which Yle secured with a formal request for information.
In August 2020, Ala-Tuuhonen sent two messages to a man revealing the home addresses of the interior minister and the prosecutor general. The recipient's number was stored on Ala-Tuuhonen's phone under an pseudonym, with Ala-Tuuhonen saying that he does not know the person's real name despite meeting him on a couple of occasions.
Ala-Tuuhonen said that the man is from southern Finland and is involved in nationalist activity.
Yle called the recipient of the messages, but he refused to be interviewed because he considered Yle to be a purveyor of "fake news". The public broadcaster asked the man what he intended to do with the addresses he had received, but he declined to comment before ending the call.
Yle has not been able to reach Ala-Tuuhonen, who was previously a suspect in Kataja's attempted murder. However, police announced during the course of the preliminary investigation that he was no longer suspected in the case.
Ala-Tuuhonen's name was published in this article because he chairs a public movement for civic engagement, as the Nationalist Alliance is a registered association.
"Christmas cards" plan
During the preliminary investigation into the attempted murder, an interrogator asked Ala-Tuuhonen the reason for sharing the addresses.
"This is a kind of prank, these 'shit Christmas' cards. Last Christmas we were supposed to do this thing to politicians, but it didn’t happen. We had to print the cards in a certain way to do it, but then we left it," Ala-Tuuhonen replied, adding that the home address of former Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Cen) was also known.
Ala-Tuuhonen also told police that the addresses had come from a group on the messaging app Telegram, saying the name of the group was "Defend Finland".
"I don't know who shared the information there. Most in the group use nicknames. I have provided only these two addresses to the [recipient], but I know that he was collecting these addresses for this purpose [to send the cards]," Ala-Tuuhonen said.
Messages related to threats, murder
At a later session, the interrogator wanted to know about Ala-Tuuhonen's Telegram discussions with two women from Jyväskylä.
"These messages contain numerous comments about Minister Ohisalo. The comments can be interpreted as threatening, talking about murder and shooting her in the head, among other things. How do you comment on these threads?" the interrogator asked.
"Such things are not taken seriously, let alone planned. In this group, that is, with [name] and [name], it had become a habit to inflate things to extremes and dispel the frustration caused by something," Ala-Tuuhonen replied.
Conversations with police sergeant
The preliminary investigation also uncovered evidence that Ala-Tuuhonen was on friendly terms with a police sergeant based in Helsinki. Among other things, Ala-Tuuhonen had been in the sauna of the sergeant's summer cottage and talked about "nationalism issues".
The day before the addresses were sent, Ala-Tuuhonen had been in contact with the sergeant.
Ala-Tuuhonen is a former member of the Soldiers of Odin, a far-right group that became known for its 'street patrols', and whose membership includes numerous neo-Nazis and other anti-immigrants.
Ala-Tuuhonen: In Jyväskylä, the matu [immigrant] gang has started to defy the street patrols. Let’s go looking for them with a bigger group on Saturday night.
Sergeant: If you are going to go looking for immigrants, ask about the different areas with as many units as possible. If you bring weapons you should keep them in the trunk of one car so that they are not visible at any point. And keep in mind that the police can’t conduct a location search on a car without a valid reason. Concentrate your forces, so don’t go with small groups to challenge the immigrants, but keep the outfit together. Also remember that they invariably come with knives etc.
During his interrogation, Ala-Tuuhonen described the exchange as "exaggerated".
"The purpose here was for someone to say to the people causing disorder, that is the refugees who do not know how to behave, to have someone say that this disorder must end," he said.
The interrogator also asked whether the addresses of the interior minister and the public prosecutor came from the sergeant. Ala-Tuuhonen replied that they did not.
The police sergeant in question has been arrested and is known to have links to the far-right network. It is not known whether Ala-Tuuhonen has had a role in this investigation.
Network suspected of more crimes
During the course of the investigation into the activities of the police sergeant, evidence was discovered of preparations being made for a violent crime. However, authorities decided not to pursue the case due to a lack of sufficient evidence.
The investigation found that the group had a hierarchy as well as principles and carried out regular training. The members of the group are linked by working in the security industry, and also include police officers.
According to the prosecutor, the group's "target" was immigrants.
That investigation is still ongoing as some members of the group are still suspected of firearms offences, among other crimes.