Finland's Largest Newspaper Faces Treason Charges For Publishing Leaked Files On Spy Ops Targeting Russia

A bizarre story of a police raid on a Finnish journalist's home is drawing international attention, especially as it occurred in a country known for its protection of press freedoms. The journalist is Laura Halminien from Finland's largest daily newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, where she published a bombshell investigative report on Saturday based on previously leaked documents connected to a Finnish intelligence operation which closely monitors Russian military movements just across the border in the St. Petersburg region.

The report gave details of Finish Defense Intelligence Agecy (VKoeL) secretive facilities and ongoing operations regarding surveillance of Russia, with special focus on a signals surveillance complex in the city of Tikkakoski in central Finland. The Tikkakoski complex is said use a high tech and advanced monitoring system to observe Russian military maneuvers based on electromagnetic radiation. 


Main offices for Finland's largest daily newspaper, which is now under investigation over the leaks. Image source: 
Hakaniemi

The unusual police search occurred on Sunday evening, when authorities showed up the journalist's home without a warrant, yet in response to a possible fire. According to Reuters the series of events unfolded as follows:

Finnish police searched a reporter’s home and seized her computer after she tried to destroy the hard drive to protect sources linked to a security story, her newspaper reported. The journalist, Laura Halminen, said she tried to smash up her computer with a hammer in her home, but the laptop then started smoking and she called the fire brigade, according to an interview published by her employer Helsingin Sanomat.

 

Police officers who came to her home with the fire service to investigate the blaze then took her computer and searched her property, police said...

In a subsequent interview with her newspaper Halminen said that she "wanted to destroy the computer to ensure that the source of the information is well-protected.” As the Saturday article was based on leaked 'top secret' intelligence files - some of them reportedly going back ten years - the newspaper faces a criminal investigation over obtaining and publishing the documents.

According to the Helsinki Times, Finland's president, Sauli Niinistö, took the unusual step of publicly slamming the newspaper for compromising national security. Niinistö said in a brief statement, "Secret documents have been handed over to Helsingin Sanomat. A criminal investigation has been initiated on that. Exposing the content of highly classified documents is critical to our security and could result in serious damage."

But also according to the Helsinki Times, the investigative story - which was the first installment in a planned series on the sensitive program - is about much more than a spy operation targeting Russia, but about Finland's domestic spy capabilities. The Helsinki Times reports:

According to Helsingin Sanomat, the main reason behind publishing the article and exposing the classified documents now is the new bill being prepared for the Finnish parliament to give this facility and other security police agencies authority to survey internet communications inside the country. The article includes images of documents with "Top Secret" stamps on the top, from 1999.


Saturday's front page from Finland's largest daily, Helsingin Sanomat, purporting to show a secretive Finnish spy facility which targets Russia.

Similar to the 2013 revelations of NSA domestic warrantless monitoring of Americans' communications (based on the Edward Snowden leaks), Helsingin Sanomat reporters see the Finish Defense Intelligence Agecy program as potential excuse for spying on Fins while citing ambiguous "reasons of national security".

The newspaper's editor-in-chief, Kaius Niemi, told Finnish media that the four hour police search of his journalist's house was "outright exceptional" as Finland prides itself as a world leader in press freedom. The group Reporters Without Borders recently ranked Finland as third in its 2017 World Press Freedom Index (behind its Scandinavian neighbors Sweden and Norway). Niemi also stated, “I believe these events are very disconcerting when it comes to the operational preconditions of the press and the protection of sources [in Finland].”

Meanwhile, the Defense Committee of Russia's State Duma issued a statement expressing surprise at the revelations of advanced Finnish spy technology stationed along Finnish-Russian border. According to Sputnik:

"We always say that we are ready to build good-neighborly relations. We did not expect something like this from our colleagues in Finland, if this information is confirmed," first deputy chairman Andrei Krasov told the Gazeta.ru media outlet, calling the intelligence-gathering center's mission a "rather unexpected move."

As there's more to the investigative series that was scheduled to come out after Saturday's story, the newspaper could potentially succumb to the political pressure unleashed in the wake of the initial report and decide to halt publication of the rest of the series. In addition to the country's president, a number of Finnish parliamentarians have reacted fiercely, citing threats to national security.

In response the newspaper has issued an open letter which, while defending the decision to publish, also admitted that it could have done a better job in preparing the public and lawmakers on explaining why the story is vital to the health and democracy of the country.

Comments

I am Groot Mon, 12/18/2017 - 15:06 Permalink

Wow, that stupid bitch just gave away the milk and the cow for free to the Ruskis. Sounds like she must be a student of Hillary. I wonder if this journalist has a server in her basement too.

peddling-fiction I am Groot Mon, 12/18/2017 - 16:42 Permalink

Protection of the press (national spies) = yes.Protection of unwanted free speech (me and a few other Finnish dissidents) = noI am a Finn and most of my controversial comments to articles were erased on this newspaper.I believe this is a ploy to tighten free speech even more, and legislate draconian laws (that are already being written about).Action --> Response (with justification)Rinse and repeat. 

In reply to by I am Groot

MoreFreedom I am Groot Mon, 12/18/2017 - 15:58 Permalink

You don't think the Russians are aware of which of their communications are open to being intercepted?And don't you think the Russians knowing they're being watched, won't help them act above board in a civilized fashion? I don't see anything the Russians were given and didn't likely already know.  I'd say the real crime, is exposing people in government who'd prefer to remain secret so no one attacks their funding.  

In reply to by I am Groot

NoDebt Mon, 12/18/2017 - 15:09 Permalink

"tried to smash up her computer with a hammer in her home, but the laptop then started smoking and she called the fire brigade"I'm running this story like a movie in my head.  I haven't even added the Swedish Chef from the Muppets to it yet and it's already funny. 

Jultorsk peddling-fiction Mon, 12/18/2017 - 16:50 Permalink

Finns are pretty smart yes, but this is a Finnish female journalist which is a notoriously ignorant breed.. According to her twitter she's exactly the hysterical sort who sees neonazis everywhere. I have no doubts about this Muppet story being true - she was quite detailed in her own words about the hammering. What other classified documents were stored at her home, in her ordinary (unsafe) laptop which likely had been attached to various open unsecured wifis in various hipster cafés around Helsinki and elsewhere, while she was sipping a nice cinnamon latte and pondering her latest "what I thought today and how did it make me feel" journalism masterpiece.  This is simply a massive clusterfu*k of incompetence from Helsingin Sanomat.

In reply to by peddling-fiction

Crazy Or Not peddling-fiction Mon, 12/18/2017 - 17:05 Permalink

If she had a hard wired fire detection system in an apartment. It's likely it would autodial the fire service. Plausable?Order of events often gets a makeover in Police's favour in the critical sequence of an unfolding situation.(also YES! Data Management skills, though if they were breaking down the door, she'd go mission critical on source material). 

In reply to by peddling-fiction

peddling-fiction RationalLuddite Mon, 12/18/2017 - 18:54 Permalink

"Link? While possible , i am very skeptical about this, despite posting not dissimilar recently myself Gracias in advance"This is but one of many: https://hothardware.com/news/intel-announces-first-atom-soc-with-integr… saw this "feature" mentioned way back. More about SoC (System on a Chip).Spanish:https://es.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/System_on_a_chipEnglish:https://en.m.wi…

In reply to by RationalLuddite

DaBard51 Mon, 12/18/2017 - 15:12 Permalink

"The Tikkakoski complex is said use a high tech and advanced monitoring system to observe Russian military maneuvers based on electromagnetic radiation. "You mean, listen to the radio?  Quaint...  When nine hundred years old you become, look this good you will not.

peddling-fiction DaBard51 Mon, 12/18/2017 - 15:26 Permalink

Russians worry more about the Google spying complex in Hamina, Finland, right at the Finno-Russian border.Google = eNeSgAy Fellow silent Finns, you will be judged for siding with the evil empire (zio-USA-EU), this time around.There will be consequences for leaving neutrality.I am not asking you to trust bears; just don't poke them in the eye.

In reply to by DaBard51