A court in Helsinki on Thursday sentenced Ilja Janitskin, the owner and editor of two internet media sites, to one year and 10 months' imprisonment.
The court concluded that the MV-Lehti and a website called Uber had published libel targeting specific persons and racist materials. The verdict noted that there was no public interest or other acceptable reason for the publication of the writeups.
In the trial, another man got one year on probation and a woman, three months on probation. The three must pay 136,000 euros as compensation to the victims of the writeups.
A key victim and target was a wellknown journalist of the Finnish public broadcaster Yle. Her lawyer said that "no other such campaign against a journalist is known anywhere in the world", and thus journalists internationally are interested in the verdict.
"Hopefully the sentence has a bearing on the establishment of 'fake media sites' and the consideration before writing comments," the lawyer said.
Matti Tolvanen, professor of criminal law at the University of Eastern Finland, described the sentences as "rigorous and important". Talking to Yle, he said the sentences sent a signal that hatred crimes can be fought against.
"An individual is fairly powerless when faced with a campaign. But the sentences show that there are ways of stopping a hatred campaign," Tolvanen said.
Janitskin had left Finland but was extradited from Andorra after an international warrant was issued. There will be an appeal at least from Janitskin, local media reported.