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A student participated in a protest to defend press freedom in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, on 17 January, 2018.
A student participated in a protest to defend press freedom in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, on 17 January, 2018.

 

Finland has slipped down to fourth place in the World Press Freedom Index, an annual assessment of the extent of freedom granted to journalists in 180 countries around the world published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The country had held on to first place in the ranking for five consecutive years before being overtaken first by Norway and Sweden in 2017, and then also by the Netherlands in 2018.

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The main reason for its latest drop in the ranking is related to a report shedding light on the staff and operations of the Finnish Defence Intelligence Agency (VKoeL) published by Helsingin Sanomat in December. The report led to law enforcement officers searching the home of one of the two authors of the report, stirring up concerns about the protection of journalistic sources in Finland.

The National Bureau of Investigation (KRP) has opened an inquiry into a suspected disclosure of national secrets in connection with the report.

Four of the five countries to record the biggest drops in the index were from Europe, with Malta falling 18 places to 65th, the Czech Republic 10 places to 34th, Serbia 10 places to 76th, and Slovakia 10 places to 27th.

Reporters without Borders (RSF) interprets the results as an indication of growing animosity towards journalists and the media not only in authoritarian countries such as Turkey and Egypt but also in Europe, where politicians seem increasingly willing to abuse the media verbally.

“The unleashing of hatred towards journalists is one of the worst threats to democracies,” states Christophe Deloire, the secretary-general at RSF.

“Political leaders who fuel loathing for reporters bear heavy responsibility because they undermine the concept of public debate based on facts instead of propaganda. To dispute the legitimacy of journalism today is to play with extremely dangerous political fire,” he argues.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Noel Celis – AFP/Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi

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