Brussels, December 19, 2017–The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Finnish authorities not to take action that could limit the flow of information to the public. Finnish police on December 17 searched the Helsinki home of journalist Laura Halminen, who had recently co-authored an article about a classified intelligence monitoring program, according to news reports.
Halminen, who writes for the daily Helsingin Sanomat, had tried to destroy her computer, which contained sensitive source material, on the evening of December 17, but the device started smoking, prompting her to call the fire department, Reuters reported citing a Finnish-language interview published in her newspaper. Police accompanied the firefighters, searched the reporter’s home, and confiscated her computer, personal and professional company mobile phones, iPad, and several flash drives, according to news reports. The police did not have a search warrant, according to Helsingin Sanomat.
“A journalist’s right to protect sources is a cornerstone of the profession,” said CPJ European Union Representative Tom Gibson. “Journalists in Finland should not have to worry about unwarranted search and seizure.”
Prior to the home search, Finland’s defense ministry on December 16 filed a criminal complaint against Helsingin Sanomat and Halminen over the newspaper’s intelligence program story. The national investigation bureau launched an investigation into the illegal disclosure of security intelligence data, a crime punishable with up to four years imprisonment, the Finnish Yle News reported.