SUPO actions in deportation of Finn from Sweden to be investigated
National Police Commissioner Mikko Paatero says that the Police Department of the Ministry of the Interior is to investigate the actions of the Finnish Security Police (SUPO) in the case of a Finnish citizen who was deported from Sweden to Finland on suspicion of involvement in terrorism.
Paatero said on Wednesday that nothing has come out that would suggest any wrongdoing on SUPO's part. “But since this kind of thing has come up, then we can investigate this as well during the regular inspection.”
One of the matters to be investigated is whether or not SUPO may have issued a criminal complaint of fraud against the man in question on the basis of flimsy evidence in order to gain access to surveillance information about possible terrorist plots.
The Chancellor of Justice and the Parliamentary Ombudsman will decide on possible action to take after the Interior Ministry holds its investigation into the matter.
On Wednesday, Helsingin Sanomat reported that Sweden expelled a North African-born Finnish citizen because of suspicion that he had terrorist contacts. Before the expulsion was implemented, SUPO filed a criminal complaint about the man with the Helsinki Police.
The man was not suspected of terrorism in Finland; SUPO suspected that he had committed aggravated fraud by collecting benefits from Finland’s Social Insurance Institution (KELA) while living in Sweden.
The man had been under close surveillance by the Swedish Security Police (SÄPO), and there was detailed information on his activities already before action was taken on his case in Finland.
Paatero does not know exactly what the basis of SUPO’s complaint was. He said that he believes that it is based mainly on information from Sweden and from SUPO’s own sources.
Paatero does not believe that SUPO would use local police in its information-gathering activities. However, he assumes that some exchange of information has taken place.
“SUPO filed a criminal complaint with the local police, in which case the local police naturally gave information on what has happened in the investigation. I see nothing strange about this.”
Paatero says that he discussed the matter with the head of SUPO on Wednesday, after Helsingin Sanomat reported on the matter.
The head of the economic crimes unit at the Helsinki Police, Ilkka Koskimäki, confirms that the investigation into suspicions of fraud began exclusively on the basis of information from SUPO, after which a decision was made to launch a preliminary investigation.
“Our role was only to investigate the reported suspicion of fraud”, Koskimäki says.
As part of the fraud investigation, the Helsinki Police asked Swedish police to give them access to the suspect’s confiscated laptop computer.
SUPO would not say if it went through the data on the man’s computer while it was being held.
SUPO also would not confirm or deny holding discussions with the man after his expulsion from Sweden.
The man himself says that SUPO agents met him at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport when he was flown out of Sweden. They asked him about events in Sweden. SUPO was also in contact with him the following two days, and he was asked to serve as an informant.
The man said that he refused because, in his own words, he did not know anything that would have been of any interest to the Security Police.
The Helsinki Police then detained the man on suspicion of fraud and kept him locked up for three days. The Helsinki Police interrogated him twice over the fraud allegations. The man himself says that SUPO also interviewed him twice, putting pressure on him to cooperate.
The Helsinki Police did not find any evidence of a crime. The Prosecution Service issued a brief statement in March this year, according to which no charges would be filed, because the police did not get information from Sweden that the man who was deported had actually been resident in Sweden.
“I will not take a stand on how much information the Finnish and Swedish security services had [on the man’s place of residence] and how secret or confidential it may have been, or whether all of the information can be used in a certain connection or not”, Paatero says.
According to Matti Tolvanen, Professor of Criminal Law and Judicial Procedure, the launch of a criminal investigation needs to be based on facts.
“A mere belief on the part of the police is not enough, if it cannot be supported by something concrete.”
Furthermore, the police are not allowed to invent suspicion of a crime in order to be able to investigate suspicions of another crime.
More on this subject:
Security Police believe that dozens in Finland in contact with terrorists
Previously in HS International Edition:
Sweden expels Finnish citizen on suspicion of terrorist connections (18.11.2009)