Book on Iraq leak scandal: Manninen leaked secret documents out of job frustration
Political journalist Pekka Ervasti of the late edition tabloid Ilta-Sanomat believes that Presidential advisor Martti Manninen leaked confidential government documents to Centre Party leader Anneli Jäätteenmäki before last year’s Parliamentary elections out of frustration for being shunted aside in the office of the President.
Ervasti puts forward this interpretation of events in his new book Irakgate, pääministerin nousu ja tuho ("Iraqgate, a Prime Minister’s Rise and Fall").
During the election campaign, Jäätteenmäki used information from the confidential Foreign Ministry documents on discussions held in late 2002 between Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen and US President George W. Bush against Lipponen and the Social Democratic Party.
The Centre Party made considerable gains in the election, and managed to move out of opposition. Jäätteenmäki became the Prime Minister, but was later pressured to resign over the use of leaked classified material during the campaign. Manninen also had to leave his job at the President’s Office.
On the basis of his interviews, Ervasti concludes that Manninen "was not much of a legal expert", and when Tarja Halonen, a jurist with a thorough knowledge of constitutional law, was elected President, he proved largely unnecessary, and was given mainly secondary tasks.
When it came out that an insider in the President’s Office had leaked information from confidential Foreign Ministry documents, SDP leaders complained of an attack on the institution of the Presidency..
According to Ervasti, President Halonen took the issue more calmly, saying that she could take care of herself.
Halonen was especially hurt by the suggestion that she might have been a party to the leak, or that she encouraged Manninen.
Ervasti raises questions about the actions of the police. Manninen’s home and workplace were thoroughly searched, but Jäätteenmäki was allowed to pick and choose what evidence she wanted to provide to the police. As it happened, no material on Iraq was found among the papers submitted by Jäätteenmäki.
The press conference marking the publication of the book was held at the Mamma Rosa restaurant in Helsinki - where Jäätteenmäki and Manninen had met before the Parliamentary elections.
Ervasti said that even though the book was published shortly before the European Parliament elections, he had no intention of trying to influence Jäätteenmäki’s success as a candidate in those elections.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Jäätteenmäki acquitted, Manninen convicted over Iraq leak (19.3.04)
Former Prime Minister and Presidential aide give contradictory accounts at trial (4.3.2004)
Jäätteenmäki announces candidacy for European Parliament (23.2.2004)