The journalist, Sam Husseini, should have just been questioned on the spot, the sign taken down and that’s it…
I find it ironic that in spite of all the other evidence proving Finland’s restrictive nature in regards to free speech, they end up showing it on live TV in front of a wide international audience. Free speech problems in Finland also entail what they don’t dare to print, self censorship is still a widely held practice here. Old habits die hard.
Press freedom questioned
The reporter dragged out of the press conference tells his side of the story in The Nation.
Sam Husseini, a contributor to the US political magazine, says he came to Helsinki to ask the presidents questions about the threat of nuclear weapons and to distribute an open letter about the need for secure elections and true national security.
Husseini explains that over the years he has learned that asking leaders hard questions is difficult. “If government officials don’t like your questions, they just won’t call on you,” he says.
That’s why Husseini said he decided to hold up a small piece of paper to draw Trump or Putin’s attention. Written on the paper was “NUCLEAR WEAPON BAN TREATY.” Husseini expected the security officers to either understand that the sign did not constitute a protest, or ask him to turn over the sign.
He would have abided by that decision, Husseini said, but instead security officers “lunged for the sign, knocking my glasses to the floor and dragging me out of the hall.”
The journalist said he was taken to a small room and told that Finnish law allowed for police to detain him for 24 hours without charge. He was denied access to his phone or other possessions, and had to relinquish his press badge, which he later got back.
While on the way to a detention facility, Husseini said he hollered to onlookers: “This is freedom of press in Finland!” As a result, officers tackled him to the ground and cuffed him.
Husseini said he was asked more questions at the detention facility and released around midnight. No charges were pressed against him.