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Supreme Court grants journalist leave to appeal defamation verdict

Johanna Vehkoo's conviction for calling a city councillor a "racist" and "Nazi clown" was upheld by an appeal court last year.

Toimittaja ja tietokirjailija Johanna Vehkoo, Telakkarannan Konepajahalli, Hki, 18.10.2016.
Journalist Johanna Vehkoo lost her appeal against the verdict last September. Image: Jari Kovalainen / Yle

The Supreme Court has granted journalist Johanna Vehkoo leave to appeal a defamation conviction.

In a Facebook post in 2016, Vehkoo called Oulu city councillor Junes Lokka a "racist" and "Nazi clown," which Oulu District Court ruled in 2019 was an attack on Lokka as a person and not his politics.

The district court ordered Vehkoo to pay a fine 15 income-linked 'day-fines' as well as compensation to Lokka of 200 euros for the suffering he experienced. She was also ordered to cover the complainant's legal fees, which amounted to 6,000 euros.

The Rovaniemi Court of Appeal subsequently upheld the lower court's verdict in a ruling handed down last September.

Earlier last year, Oulu District Court fined Lokka for the offence of ethnic agitation, after finding that he had posted online videos depicting Muslims and other immigrants as being inferior to others.

In her application for leave to appeal, Vehkoo asked the Supreme Court dismiss the charge on the grounds that Rovaniemi Court of Appeal had manifestly misapplied the characteristics of defamation in a way that was contrary to the interpretations of the Constitution, the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights.

Vehkoo argued that the Court of Appeal nullified her right to exercise political freedom of expression and gave more weight to a politician's right not to be subjected to criticism.

Her application for leave to appeal further added that the issue is about the limits of political freedom of speech.

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