News Now Finland journalist wins European award

The award from Free Press Unlimited recognised Elias Huuhtanen's work on three investigations into Finnish state-owned companies.

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Elias Huuhtanen (L) with other award winners in The Hague, 31st October 2019 / Credit: Free Press Unlimited

News Now Finland journalist Elias Huuhtanen has won the Free Press Unlimited 2019 Newcomer of the Year – Hans Verploeg Award.

Huuhtanen, 24, was nominated for his work on three investigations in Finnish state-owned companies Patria and Neste.

Speaking at the award ceremony in The Hague on Thursday, Huuhtanen said he is thrilled to be recognised for his journalism.

File picture of Elias Huuhtanen / Credit: News Now Finland

“We put a lot of time and hard work into these stories and it’s a real honour to receive this prestigious award, especially since the other nominated journalists did such exceptional work” says Huuhtanen.

“It’s an amazing feeling to win the Hans Verploeg Award, and I want to thank Free Press Unlimited for recognising the value that even a small newsroom can bring to the media landscape” he adds.

The initial investigation, published in September 2018, laid out for the first time compelling evidence that Finnish-made Patria vehicles, some fitted with Russian heavy weapons, were deployed to parts of Yemen where the United Nations says massacres have taken place.

Using open-source data, Huuhtanen mapped the timeline of massacre reports and Finnish government approval to send spare parts to the UAE military; then uncovered the video evidence that put the Patrias in a specific area.

Two other separate investigations from spring 2019 looked at a breakdown in Neste’s supply chain integrity in Indonesia, where it sources palm oil for its biofuel product at mills that take illegally-harvested palm fruit; and showed how loopholes in Finnish legislation allow Neste to use a product called PFAD in its biofuel and classify it as ‘waste’ – something which is not legal in any other European country where PFAD products are available.

“We’re all very proud of Elias’s achievements in winning the Newcomer of the Year award. It’s a wonderful validation for the work he’s done, and reinforces that there’s a place in Finland for original independent journalism, even in English” says News Now Finland’s Managing Editor David Mac Dougall, who co-wrote two of the nominated stories.

Free Press Unlimited project in DR Congo / Credit: Free Press Unlimited FB

About Free Press Unlimited 

Free Press Unlimited is a not-for-profit organisation which runs media projects in more than two dozen countries around the world, providing training for journalists especially in conflict zones, to provide their audiences with trustworthy news and information.

They also run projects supporting media literacy and more equality in media,

The organisation says that nominees in the Newcomer of the Year award “show extraordinary dedication to journalism as a means to hold those in power accountable and to serve as a watchdog in the public interest. They manage to share stories that would otherwise be left untold.”