Former Minister Päivi Räsänen from Finland Wins Free Speech Case after Being Charged Following Her Tweet of a Biblical Verse
Finnish MP wins on all charges in major free speech trial
ADF Press Release: All charges against Finnish Parliamentarian Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Pohjola are unanimously dismissed following high-profile free speech trial
The former Finnish Minister of the Interior, faced three criminal charges for sharing her faith-based beliefs, including on Twitter HELSINKI (30 March 2022) – A Finnish court has upheld the right to free speech by dismissing all charges against Finnish MP Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola. In a unanimous ruling the court concluded that “it is not for the district court to interpret biblical concepts”. The prosecution was ordered to pay more than 60,000 EUR in legal costs and has seven days to appeal the ruling.
The former Minister of the Interior had been charged with “hate speech” for sharing her faith-based views on marriage and sexual ethics, in a 2019 tweet, a 2019 radio debate, and a 2004 pamphlet. The bishop faced charges for publishing Räsänen’s pamphlet for his congregation over 17 years ago. Their case has garnered global media attention this year, as human rights experts voiced concern over the threat this case posed to free speech in Finland. “I am so grateful the court recognized the threat to free speech and ruled in our favour. I feel a weight has been lifted off my shoulders after being acquitted. Although I am grateful for having had this chance to stand up for freedom of speech, I hope that this ruling will help prevent others from having to go through the same ordeal,” said Päivi Räsänen after her victory.
On both days of the trial (24 January and 14 February) crowds gathered outside the Helsinki courthouse to express their support for the politician and the bishop. In Hungary, over 3000 people gathered in front of the Finnish Embassy in Budapest to demonstrate against the charges before the closing arguments were heard. Räsänen has also received letters of support from many denominations including the International Lutheran Council with Bishops and presidents of Synods from all over the world, the European Evangelical Alliance, Catholic and Pentecostal churches in Lithuania, representatives of the Evangelical, Catholic, Baptist, Pentacostal, Reformed and Unitarian churches in Romania, as well as the Evangelical Church of Macedonia, Christian NGOs in Latvia and other individuals.