Internet trolls jailed over pro-Russia hate campaign against Finnish journalist

The founder and contributors of anti-immigration websites MV-Lehti and Uber Uutiset, have received prison sentences for harassing and slandering a Finnish reporter.

Tabatha Leggett
Tabatha Leggett NewsMavens, Finland
Internet trolls jailed over pro-Russia hate campaign against Finnish journalist - NewsMavens
Jessikka Aro. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

This is the first time that a European country has taken action again Russian disinformation spread through social media.

Jessikka Aro, a reporter for the Finnish national broadcaster Yle, started investigating how Russian troll factories are trying to influence public discourse in Finland in 2014.

Her reporting prompted anti-immigration websites MV-Lehti and Uber Uutiset to publish her contact details as well as false, derogatory information about her. Over the last four years, Aro has received death threats, as well as threats of sexual violence, from online trolls.

After filing a complaint with the police, Aro’s slanderers received prison sentences and fines last week.

Details from the story:

  • Reporter Jessikka Aro started investigating Russian troll factories in 2014.
  • Her reporting led MV-Lehti, an anti-immigration, pro-Russian publication, to publish false, disparaging information about her across social media.
  • Aro was subsequently threatened by online trolls and doxed.After filing a complaint with the police, three of Aro’s trolls were given prison sentences last week.
  • Ilja Janitskin, who ran MV-Lehti, was convicted on 16 criminal counts related to his website.
  • He was given a 22-month prison sentence.Johan Bäckman received a one-year, suspended jail sentence for aggravated defamation and stalking.One other MV-Lehti contributor was sentenced to three-months in prison.
  • Between them, the three individuals have been ordered to pay €136,000 in damages as well as Aro’s legal costs.

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