Court of Appeal hears right wing intimidation case today 

Kremlin mouthpiece Johan Bäckman and far right publisher Ilja Janitskin are appealing their convictions for their sustained online hate campaign against journalist Jessikka Aro.

File picture of Ilja Janitskin campaigning during 2019 general election / Credit: News Now Finland

The Helsinki Court of Appeal will begin to hear the case of two right-wing agitators convicted by the District Court last October on charges of waging a sustained campaign of intimidation against a Finnish journalist.

The founder of far right newspaper MV-Lehti Ilja Janitskin, who is known for publishing racist writings at the online site; and pro-Kremlin propagandist Johan Bäckman were between them found guilty of 16 charges of stalking, aggravated defamation, and inciting others to aggravated defamation against journalist Jessikka Aro.

Award-winning journalist Aro exposed the operations of a Russian propaganda factory in St. Petersburg several years ago and since then has been the target of threats, online abuse and harassment, spearheaded by right wing publications and individuals including Janitskin and Bäckman.

Lawyers say the convictions set a legal precedent in Finland, where journalists now know they have the law on their side in cases of online harassment and defamation.

In the spring Janitskin, who was extradited from Andorra where he had fled Finnish authorities, tried his hand at politics running as a candidate for the Seven Star Movement of former foreign minister Paavo Väyrynen.

He was not elected to parliament.