Former Finnish premier is cleared over Iraq papers leak

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The Independent Online

The former Prime Minister of Finland, Anneli Jaatteenmaki, was acquitted yesterday on charges of inciting a government official to leak classified documents on Iraq.

The former Prime Minister of Finland, Anneli Jaatteenmaki, was acquitted yesterday on charges of inciting a government official to leak classified documents on Iraq.

Martti Manninen, a former presidential aide, was found guilty of breaking the official secrets act by faxing the papers to Ms Jaatteenmaki during elections before she briefly became Finland's first female prime minister last year. He was fined €3,600 (£2,415).

The ruling handed down in a statement by Helsinki District Court said there was insufficient evidence to convict Ms Jaatteenmaki for "assisting or inciting [Manninen] to break the law", when she received hundreds of pages of faxes from him, including the Iraq papers. Neither defendant appeared at the two-day trial, which generated huge publicity. Manninen's lawyer said he would not comment on the ruling. In a statement, Ms Jaatteenmaki said she was relieved by the decision. "I am glad this painful process is over," she said.

Ms Jaatteenmaki became prime minister in April 2003. During campaigning she used the leaked documents to accuse the then prime minister Paavo Lipponen of giving the impression that neutral Finland supported the war against Iraq

She resigned two months into her term after being accused of lying to parliament about the documents.

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