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Police investigate defamation, illegal threats against top cop

There are a total of eight suspects in the case, including MP Ano Turtiainen.

Ylikomisario Jari Taponen Helsingin poliisista
Helsinki Police Department's Chief Inspector Jari Taponen. Image: Riku Tonttila / Yle

Police in Eastern Uusimaa are investigating suspected cases of defamation and illegal threats made by several different people against Helsinki Police Department's Chief Inspector Jari Taponen.

Taponen, who leads the Helsinki Police Department's crime prevention unit, has filed a total of eight criminal reports in relation to messages he has received.

One of the suspects in the case is believed to be MP Ano Turtiainen, who formed his own one-member parliamentary party after being ejected from the Finns Party's parliamentary group last year and from the party itself earlier this year.

Turtiainen called Taponen a "munaton nillittäjä" (roughly translated as 'ball-less whinger') on Twitter in January 2020 in response to a tweet by the chief inspector about freedom of speech and expression.

According to Yle's information, police are now investigating Turtiainen's tweet as a suspected case of defamation.

Story continues after the photo.

Vasemmalla ylikomisario Jari Taponen, oikealla kansanedustaja Ano Turtiainen.
Jari Taponen (left) and MP Ano Turtiainen (right). Image: Kristiina Lehto / Yle, Mikko Ahmajärvi / Yle
Taponen has not previously commented on the reasons he filed the criminal reports, but told Yle on Wednesday that a line had been breached by some of the comments and criticism he has received.

"I'm used to severe criticism on social media. Somewhere, however, there is a limit to what the police have to put up with. For me, it is when people start threatening or using their own position to shame others online," Taponen said, adding that the suspected crimes follow a pattern of online shaming.

"Someone gains publicity or visibility via public humiliation and slander, which then provokes others to participate in the harassment," he said.

Taponen, who is a prominent figure on Twitter, added that he has also received death threats on social media.

"The purpose of such [online shaming] campaigns is usually to put pressure on the target to resign or to change their behaviour, either directly or through indirect influence on the employer," he explained.

Investigation to be completed by September

Eastern Uusimaa police confirmed to Yle that they are investigating the suspected cases of defamation and illegal threats involving eight suspects, but that not all are suspected of committing both crimes.

"I will not comment on the names of the suspects, but I can confirm that we are investigating a case in which criminal reports were filed by a person belonging to the Helsinki Police Department," Inspector Timo Luoto said.

The investigation was launched nearly two years ago and is nearing completion, Luoto said.

"The intention is to complete the investigation in September," he confirmed, adding that at least some of the cases will be put forward for prosecution.

However, Luoto was not willing to say whether MP Turtiainen's suspected defamation would be one of the cases put forward.

Turtiainen did not reply to Yle's request for an interview on Wednesday.

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