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Jessikka Aro
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    (1980- )
    Born in Finland
    Journalist for Finland’s public service broadcaster Yle
    Investigated pro-Russian internet trolling
    Interviewed employees of the Internet Research Agency, a ‘troll factory’ in St. Petersburg
    Informed she would receive an International Women of Courage Award from the US State Department (February 12, 2019)
    Award rescinded shortly before the ceremony
    She was arrested for drug possession (1980).
    The State Department claimed she was never a finalist for the Women of Courage Award and that her notification was a ‘regrettable error.’
    She was the subject of a relentless campaign of abuse from Russian internet trolls, up to receiving death threats.
    She noted about the attacks, ‘I realized that this is actually a much more important topic than I originally thought. They wouldn't have attacked me so heavily if this was some sort of small issue, so in a way, they have only exposed that this whole troll phenomenon is real and it's really serious.’
    Three of the people who harassed her were convicted in a Helsinki court of defamation and stalking (2018).
    State Department officials told Foreign Policy magazine that the Woman of Courage Award was nixed because she frequently criticized Donald Trump on Twitter.
    Foreign Policy noted that there was no evidence that the White House pressured the State Department into revoking the award; instead lower level officials apparently panicked after learning the would-be recipient was an outspoken critic of the President.
    The Washington Post wrote, ‘Ms. Aro deserved the award. She should hold her head high for courage, unlike those who denied her the honor.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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