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Tuesday's papers: Prison extremism, corruption claims and basic income

Tuesday's media review includes worries over extremist ideologies in prisons, claims of corruption against an ex-MP and a look at Finland's decision not to extend a basic income trial.

Vartijat tuovat Turun elokuisen puukkoiskun tekijän Abderrahman Bouananen Turun vankilan saliin.
Abderrahman Bouanane has disrupted his trial on charges of murder with terrorist intent. Image: Roni Lehti / Lehtikuva

The trial of the Turku stabbing suspect continues to occupy the Finnish media, and on Tuesday there are stories in Iltalehti and Ilta-Sanomat about apparently growing numbers of disruptive radicalised prisoners. Moroccan suspect Abderrahman Bouanane has repeatedly disrupted proceedings at the Turku District Court, expressing hatred for women and refusing to sit in the dock.

Bouanane is on trial for two counts of murder with terrorist intent and eight counts of attempted murder with terrorist intent following the attack in Turku in August of 2017.

Both papers note a report from the Criminal Sanctions Agency earlier this year that found there were some 76 prisoners in Finnish jails who were seen to have links to radical Islamist groups, and 28 with links to the far-right. There are examples in Europe too, with the suspect in the 2015 Paris attacks Salah Abdeslam refusing to recognise the authority of French courts.

Iltalehti does not specifically link the story to the Turku trial, but does list 12 terror attacks in Europe that were carried out by former prisoners. IS meanwhile says Finland aims to improve the way it deals with radicalised prisoners by identifying them early on and blocking access to extremist sermons.

Ex-MP reprimanded for Azeri links

Former Left Alliance MP Jaakko Laakso has been in the news after he featured in a report by the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council alleging corrupt links to Azerbaijan.

Laakso had, according to the report, admitted to a colleague that he had been 'on the payroll' of the Azerbaijan government and had repeatedly lobbied for Azeri interests when he was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly between 1991 and 2003 and between 2007 and 2011. He'd also continued his lobbying after he left the assembly, using an honorary member's badge to enter the assembly's premises.

Current Left Alliance leader Li Andersson condemned his actions, while Laakso himself described what he'd done as 'normal consultancy work' which helped advance Finnish-Azeri relations. Talouselämä, which first reported the allegations, mentioned that Laakso had been regarded by Finnish security intelligence police as a KGB asset back in the 1970s.

Basic income disappointment

Finland's basic income trial has gained favourable publicity around the world, but it's also been criticised for a lack of ambition. The BBC is the latest outlet to take a look at the trial, this time reporting that it won't be extended to cover employed people, as basic income advocates and some researchers would have liked.

The BBC story was headlined 'Finland's basic income experiment falls flat', and explains that the government is not going to finance an extension. Kela researcher Miska Simanainen says that "reforming the social security system is on the political agenda, but the politicians are also discussing many other models of social security, rather than just basic income".

That's a reference to the controversial 'activation model' which has seen half of unemployed people receive a 4.65 percent cut in their benefits for failing to be sufficiently active in their job search. The rules have been criticised as unclear and arbitrary, with a lack of eligible training courses available and a narrow definition of what constitutes 'active' job seeking.

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