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Journalist loses appeal over fine for calling politician a 'Nazi clown'

The court found that the journalist's derogatory statements were directed at Junes Lokka as a person, not a politician.

Johanna Vehkoo saapuu Rovaniemen hovioikeuden käsittelyyn Oulussa.
August 2020 file photo of Johanna Vehkoo at Rovaniemi Court of Appeal. Image: Paulus Markkula / Yle

Journalist Johanna Vehkoo has lost her appeal against a defamation conviction for calling Oulu city councillor Junes Lokka a "racist" and "Nazi clown," among other things, in a Facebook post in 2016.

The Rovaniemi Court of Appeal upheld the lower court's verdict in a ruling handed down on Wednesday.

The April 2019 district court ruling found that Vehkoo’s comments constituted a personal attack on Lokka and that she did not focus her criticism on his politics.

The appeal court agreed with the lower court's decision that Vehkoo's criticism was directed at Lokka as a person, not as a politician.

Lokka had run in the 2012 municipal elections, 2014 European elections and the 2015 parliamentary election before he was elected as a councillor in Oulu in 2017.

The district court had ordered Vehkoo to pay 15 income-linked 'day-fines', and the journalist was also ordered to pay Lokka 200 euros for the suffering he experienced. She was also told to pay the complainant’s legal fees, which amounted to 6,000 euros.

Earlier this year, the district court fined Lokka for the offence of "ethnic agitation", after finding that Lokka had posted online videos depicting Muslims and other immigrants as being inferior to others. The court found the posted videos violated laws on human dignity and religious freedom.

Vehkoo works as a freelance journalist and has been a contributor to Yle’s "Lie detector" (Valheenpaljastaja) series, which largely deals with fake news.

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