Eight held in Lieksa over Facebook hate speech
Police taking tougher line on online racial incitement
National Police Commissioner Mikko Paatero says that police will take a tougher line on racist agitation on the internet.
Paatero says that hate speech on the internet has been constantly increasing.
Police in the North Karelian town of Lieksa have launched a preliminary investigation into threats against local immigrants that have been made on the Facebook social network.
Six young people were detained briefly over the weekend, suspected of incitement against a national group, and two others on suspicion of aggravated incitement against a national group. The suspects vary in age from 15 to 50.
National Police Commissioner Paatero does not remember a case in which as many people would have been arrested at one time under similar circumstances.
“This is a very exceptional case. Our threshold still has to stay relatively high, so I believe that there has been much consideration in this case, and that the writing has been seen to be exceptional.”
During the past year police have learned of thousands of racist entries on various websites. Paatero says that a fifth of these have come under investigation.
“This kind of writing is increasing constantly.”
Detective inspector Antti Arponen says that the site, which was set up by a local Lieksa man, contains abuse and threats especially against Somalis who have moved to Lieksa.
“The page also has a video clip containing actual violence”, he says.
Some of those who were detained are reportedly connected with other racist crimes that have come out in Lieksa in the past two years.
Police say that there have been 34 participants in the Facebook group in question, but that most of them have simply voiced opinions on the immigrants coming into Lieksa.
In the past two years a community of about 200 immigrants, mostly Somali, has been established in Lieksa.
The maximum punishment for aggravated incitement against a national group is four years imprisonment.
Incitement is considered aggravated if there are calls for serious violence in a way that clearly endangers public order and safety.
All eight suspects were released during the weekend. Two of them were ordered not to leave the area.
Some of the suspects have admitted to using inappropriate language, and they promised to delete some of their messages.
The administrator of the group in question has also deleted most of the articles.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Police investigate suspected incitement against immigrants in Lieksa (17.11.2011)
Racial tensions heighten in North Karelian town of Lieksa (13.10.2011)