When one becomes a target for online harassment, there are usually only two options: to suffer the slings and arrows or to uproot from the internet – and sometimes one’s real life – entirely.
But Jessikka Aro, a Finnish investigative journalist, found an elusive third option: justice.
Ms. Aro compiled award-winning reports on Russian online propaganda efforts, particularly via so-called “online troll factories” and pro-Russia European media. But her work drew the attention of pro-Russian trolls, who began a hate campaign against Aro. She was harassed via social media; she received death threats; and her personal medical records were published online.
But Aro took the harassers she could identify to court. She sued Johan Bäckman, a pro-Russian Finnish academic, and Ilja Janitskin, publisher of the pro-Kremlin website MV-Lehti, over claims including stalking and defamation. The Finnish prosecutor added criminal charges too.
On Thursday, Aro won her case. The judge found Mr. Janitskin guilty on 16 counts, including defamation, and sentenced him to 22 months in prison. Mr. Backman was also found guilty and received a one-year suspended sentence. The two men, along with a third defendant, were ordered to pay 136,000 euros ($157,000) in damages.
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