Finnish PM denies accusations of influencing media coverage over business scandal

HELSINKI, Nov. 30 (Xinhua)-- Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila denied on Wednesday accusations that he tried to clamp down on the national broadcaster Yle over its coverage of a story involving him.

In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Sipila repudiated that he had tried to influence Yle on its reports.

Last Friday, Yle reported that state-owned nickel company Terrafame had placed an order to Katera Steel, a company owned by Sipila's relatives, just a few days after the prime minister approved a new funding of 100 million euros (106 million U.S. dollars) for Terrafame.

On Wednesday morning, Finnish news magazine Suomen Kuvalehti reported that Sipila sent dozens of critical emails to an Yle journalist responsible for the story.

"I wanted to intervene regarding the issue that I was not given a fair chance to comment on the story. There was not the slightest intention at any stage to limit the freedom of the press or to influence what Yle says or does not say," Sipila was quoted by Yle as telling the press conference.

While Yle did not publish more follow-up stories, Yle's head of news and current affairs Atte Jaaskelainen issued a statement arguing that the prime minister's emails had not influenced Yle's coverage.

Yle did not publish stories questioning whether Sipila should have recused himself from decisions on the order given to his relatives' company, as it decided to wait until investigations being carried, explained Jaaskelainen.

The office of the Chancellor of Justice, Finland's government watchdog, confirmed earlier that it received more than 10 complaints about the Terrafame deal.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman's office also received two complaints. The parliament watchdog said on Monday that it would review a possible conflict of interest on the part of Sipila.

[ Editor: meng ]


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