Finland's military intelligence in focus

The daily paper Helsingin Sanomat has published a detailed report on the activities of Finland's intelligence agencies. The report was prompted by plans for a legal reform that would expand the armed forces' powers in this area. Because the article was partially based on confidential documents, the police has launched an investigation. The report is making waves in Finland and also in Estonia.

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Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

Freedom of expression under scrutiny

Ilta-Sanomat explains why this affair has far-reaching implications:

“When someone passes on confidential documents to the media, the armed forces want to find out where the leak is. That's entirely understandable. From the point of view of the media it's nothing unusual for the editors of a publication to receive confidential documents. That's the way it should be. Who wants to live in a society in which the media only covers the things that the authorities want to be made public? ... Many overlook the fact that articles like the one recently published couldn't be published at all in many countries of the world. ... In the current case the value of freedom of expression is being defined - in the last instance probably in court. Then the issue will be about much more than just one newspaper article.”

Hämeen Sanomat (FI) /

Citizens don't need to know everything

The citizens don't have to know about all the authorities' activities, Hämeen Sanomat argues:

“It's naive to demand that citizens have the right to know everything. There is no such right. The headline in Helsingin Sanomat reads: 'Secret task force could intercept your emails.' So what? One could just as well ask: Shouldn't the authorities have the right to know the contents of messages in which terrorist attacks are being planned? Just as the citizens have a right not to know certain things and to trust that the authorities are acting within the limits of the law and respecting the privacy and other fundamental rights of the citizens.”

Postimees (EE) /

Finland a wolf in sheep's clothing

For Postimees the report in Helsingin Sanomat proves above all that Finland is not as harmless as many believe when it comes to espionage and defence:

“The published material shows that the intelligence service and the Finnish military know exactly what to focus on. They haven't forgotten the signals intelligence techniques [for the technical gathering of information]; on the contrary, they have refined them. The next time you meet people in Estonia who recommend the 'Finlandisation' [the country's soft approach vis-à-vis the Soviet Union and now Russia] of foreign and security policy, tell them to take a look at this material. Naive Finland exists only in the minds of such people.”