HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finland’s new prime minister said on Thursday he opposed online harassment and that a free media was a cornerstone of democracy, after EU authorities criticised what they called a smear campaign by Finnish politicians against a local journalist.
Petteri Orpo also urged all parliamentary groups to review what constituted acceptable online behaviour by their members.
“I do not condone online harassment,” he told Reuters, adding that he aimed to maintain Finland as a “model country” for press freedoms.
Several lawmakers from parties in Orpo’s rightist coalition, which took office in mid-June, targeted journalist columnist Ida Eramaa in online comments over the weekend.
In a newspaper column she had accused one coalition member, the populist Finns Party, of trying to undermine media freedoms after reports on its links with far-right organisations.
Political Cartoons on World Leaders
European Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic said the lawmakers had sought through social media to discredit Eramaa as a journalist, and that silence or a lukewarm reaction to such harassment might be perceived as condoning it.
Economy Minister Vilhelm Junnila, a member of the Finns Party, resigned just 10 days into his term of office on Friday after he was accused of making repeated Nazi references, which he categorised as jokes.
(Reporting by Louise Breusch Rasmussen and Essi Lehto, editing by John Stonestreet)
Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.