Helsingin Sanomat journalist loses Supreme Court ‘search and seize’ appeal

Police seized 19 items linked to the journalist's work, including computers, phones, note books and USB memory sticks.

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File photo of judge holding documents / Credit: iStock

The Supreme Court has ruled that a police raid on the home of a Helsingin Sanomat journalist was carried out lawfully.

The case goes back to a story that Hesari published in December 2017 about Finland’s intelligence-gathering capabilities, based on decade-old documents. The Defence Forces had asked police to investigate, and police searched journalist Laura Halminen‘s home after she called emergency services to tackle a small fire.

During the search, computers and other electronic equipment like hard drives and phones were taken by officers, which the reporter claimed contained information about her sources.

Halminen said the police search was illegal because they had no warrant to authorise it, and that police actions threatened the protection of her confidential source on the story.

At the time the story triggered a heated debate among Finland’s political and military classes about the sensitivities of media outlets reporting any sort of intelligence gathering capabilities, especially with the implication they’re targeted against Russia.

Earlier in 2018 the District Court ruled that police had the right to conduct the search, and rejected Halminen’s request to get back the items that were confiscated. The Appeal Court and now Finland’s Supreme Court have both also backed up the initial ruling.