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KSML: Controversial HS story on intelligence centre to be probed by press watchdog

A controversial story by Helsingin Sanomat about an intelligence installation in central Finland has been referred to Finland's press watchdog.

Hensingin Sanomien artikkeli.
Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

The Council for the Mass media in Finland (JSN) will come to a judgement on Helsingin Sanomat's recent story about an intelligence installation in central Finland. The story was sharply criticised by Finland's security establishment for its use of highly-classified documents as sources.

The Keskisuomalainen newspaper reported on Monday that the JSN will now rule on the ethics of using classified material in reporting after a complaint from a private individual.

The JSN board will discuss the matter at its next meeting, but any possible ruling will come later, according to the organisation's chair Elina Grundström. According to the chair, the complaint does not allege a breach of the code of media ethics but asks the JSN's opinion on the underlying principle.

Finland's National Bureau of Investigation is also investigating the leak and publication of classified material in the HS story, which revealed some of the activities of an intelligence unit based at the Tikkakoski air force base near Jyväskylä.

The affair has caused ructions in Finnish media and law enforcement, with he chair of the Finnish section of Reporters Without Borders forced to resign after comments criticising the decision by HS to publish their story.

Self-regulation in Finland is undertaken by the JSN, a council composed of a chair and thirteen members which rules on breaches of Finland's code of press ethics by organisations which have signed up to abide by them.

The council can order member organisations to publish a notice admitting a breach of the code, and in broader ethics questions it can undertake an investigation and issue policy statements.

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