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Last Updated: Friday, 19 December, 2003, 18:30 GMT
Finnish ex-prime minister charged
Anneli Jaatteenmaki after her resignation
Jaatteenmaki is accused of lying over leaks of secret information
The first female prime minister of Finland has been charged with inciting or assisting a former presidential aide to leak official secrets.

Anneli Jaatteenmaki stepped down in June after 63 days in office, in a row over information she used in the election campaign to attack her rival.

She claimed that Paavo Lipponen, the then prime minister, undermined Finnish neutrality by backing the Iraq war.

She denies having asked for the secret documents which backed up her claims.

In my own opinion, during the preliminary investigations I have shown that I am not guilty of punishable behaviour
Anneli Jaatteenmaki
At the time the documents backing her claim were published on her website. Some appeared later in local tabloids.

Finland's top prosecutor also charged presidential aide Martti Manninen with leaking official secrets on Friday.

He is alleged to have given them to Ms Jaatteenmaki. They could face up to two years in prison if they are found guilty.

The ex-prime minister issued a brief statement saying she was "disappointed" but did not oppose a public trial.

"In my own opinion, during the preliminary investigations I have shown that I am not guilty of punishable behaviour," she said.

The trial will open in Helsinki in February.




SEE ALSO:
Leak scandal sinks Finnish PM
18 Jun 03  |  Europe
Opposition wins Finnish poll
17 Mar 03  |  Europe
Country profile: Finland
26 Sep 02  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Finland
06 Mar 03  |  Country profiles


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