By a majority of five votes to two that there had been no violation of Article 10
(1) Since the applicant’s arrest and conviction were the consequence of his conduct as newspaper photographer and journalist when disobeying the police, the presumption is that there was an interference with his Article 10 rights.
(2) The measures taken against A had a basis in Finnish law and pursued several legitimate aims.
(3) The court noted the circumstances leading up to A’s arrest, holding that any interference with A’s exercise of his journalistic freedom was only of limited extent, given the opportunities made available to him to cover the event adequately. The conduct sanctioned by the criminal conviction was not his journalistic activity as such, but his refusal to comply with a police order at the very end of the demonstration, when it was judged by the police to have become a riot.
As to whether the “necessity” of the restriction of the exercise of the freedom of expression had been established convincingly, the Court examined the relevance and sufficiency of the reasons given by the domestic courts for convicting the applicant. There were public interest grounds for reporting the event, and an area reserved for the press. It had, however, been necessary to disperse the crowd because of the riot and the threat to public safety, and thus the restrictions on A’s Article 10 rights were justified.
The District Court had analysed the matter from the point of view of Article 10. A had been convicted of a crime but no penalty had been imposed as he had faced contradictory expectations from his police and his employer. As a result, A was not given a criminal record.
The domestic court’s reasons were relevant and sufficient for the purposes of Article 10. Taking into account the factors considered, and the margin of appreciation afforded to the State in this area, a fair balance between the competing interests was struck. The domestic courts were entitled to conclude that the interference was necessary in a democratic society.