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Janitskin appeals sentence over trolling, hate speech

The editor of MV-lehti was sentenced to 22 months in prison and ordered to pay 136,000 euros in fines.

Ilja Janitskin
Ilja Janitskin Image: AOP

Three people convicted over a lengthy campaign of harassment against journalists and hate speech are to appeal their sentences. Ilja Janitskin, who ran the MV-lehti website, had been sentenced to 22 months in prison and ordered to pay 136,000 euros in fines after he was convicted in October.

His defence team said immediately after the case that they regarded the verdicts as unjust and would appeal.

Janitskin was convicted of 16 crimes including defamation and breaches of confidentiality related to an online harassment campaign directed at Yle journalist Jessikka Aro, among others.

She had reported on Russian online influencing campaigns including so-called ‘troll factories’, and was subsequently subject to a campaign of harassment and intimidation.

Her lawyer argued in court that she had been defamed, portrayed as an agent of Nato and US intelligence, and baselessly accused of running along with Yle a register of supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin. She was harassed and abused on social media as a result of articles published on MV lehti and Uber Uutiset, another Janitskin outlet.

Janitskin’s convictions were for three counts of aggravated defamation, two counts of aggravated incitement against an ethnic group, three counts of copyright infringement, two counts of breach of confidentiality, two counts of illicit gambling charges and four counts of illicit fundraising charges. He was acquitted of three other charges.

Janitskin had been extradited to Finland from Andorra, the Pyrenean Principality to which he had fled when it emerged the Finnish authorities were investigating his actions in publishing hate speech online.

Johan Bäckman, a Finnish academic known for entangling himself in numerous child custody battles that have hit the headlines in Russia, was convicted in the same trial. He will also appeal his suspended sentence as will a woman who worked for MV-lehti and was convicted in the same trial.

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