The Estonian Writers' Union (EKL) has opted not to expel journalist Peeter Helme. Helme stands charged with sexual solicitation of a minor.
The decision was made via secret ballot, the organization's chair, Tiit Aleksejev, told ERR Monday.
It follows members of the writers' union appealing both the judgment against Helme, a former Postimees editor-in-chief, made by the first-tier Harju County Court in November, and any move to remove him from the union, investigative weekly Eesti Ekspress recently reported (link in Estonian).
Aleksejev nonetheless condemned the activities Helme has been charged with.
"The EKL unconditionally and unanimously condemns any pedophile activities and unethical behavior Peter Helme [allegedly engaged in], and their justification on the grounds of freedom of speech and literary expression," Aleksejev said.
Helme was sentenced to one year and four months' imprisonment with a two-year probation period, at the end of November this year. He has vowed to appeal the decision, which would likely mean at the second-tier circuit court.
Helme was apprehended in a sting operation in October 2019 in an online chat room, where he had engaged in alleged sexual enticement of a minor. The account Helme had been communicating with was in fact operated by a Police and Border Guard Board official.
Helme says that he was aware all along that he was communicating with an adult, adding that this was part of a role play which he assumed the adult was colluding with.
Editor: Andrew Whyte