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Justice chancellor scolds defense minister for "constitutional Taliban" blog post

Jussi Niinistö used "inappropriate and personal" terms to attack constitutional law experts in his February blog.

Jussi Niinistö Ykkösaamussa lauantaina 19. tammikuuta.
File photo of outgoing defense minister Jussi Niinistö. Image: Yle

Chancellor of Justice Tuomas Pöysti has let Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö off the hook with a reprimand for allegedly using "inappropriate" language to criticise constitutional law experts in a blog post he wrote in February 2019. Niinistö referred to experts as "constitutional law Talibans" among other things in the scathing post.

However, the matter was resolved with Pöysti reprimanding Niinistö, with the Chancellor noting that he had no reason to suspect that the minister had committed an offence and that he didn't see any reason to initiate a preliminary investigation.

In his statement, Pöysti also justified his position on the matter by stating that the constitution sets a higher threshold for prosecution in the case of a minister. He said the terms used by Niinistö were in some respects inappropriate and personal and pointed out that the minister could have criticised the activities of constitutional experts without resorting to such language.

Niinistö's attack against experts

In February, Jussi Niinistö labelled members of the Constitutional Law Committee "constitutional law Talibans" who "mask their own ideological goals under the guise of expertise." The minister was referring to their experts' criticism of draft military intelligence laws, which he said was unjustified and "damaging to the security of the fatherland and its citizens."

The matter first came to light in February during a parliamentary question time session, when Prime Minister Juha Sipilä said he did not support Niinistö’s statements.

"Minister Jussi Niinistö has presented his own views in his blog and they do not reflect the position of the government," Sipilä said at the time. The PM had confirmed that a complaint had been filed with the Chancellor of Justice to look into the matter.

Niinistö also made headlines earlier this year for criticizing a government-commissioned study that investigated the activities of Finns serving in the Wiking Division of German’s Waffen-SS in the 1940s.

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