HELSINKI, Finland – Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen is suing the publisher of a book his former girlfriend wrote about their relationship, including steamy sauna scenes. He says he and his family have suffered and is seeking damages.
The case opened Friday in the Helsinki District Court. Vanhanen is claiming $1,450 in damages from the publisher, but has made no financial claims against the author.
Prosecutors are also demanding $73,000 from the Etukeno publisher and $10,200 from Susan Ruusunen, the author, for financial gains made from allegedly illegally revealing and spreading private information. Both have denied the charges.
"The Prime Minister's Bride" by Susan Kuronen, who has since changed her name to Ruusunen, was published in February last year. It has sold just over 4,000 copies.
This kind of kiss-and-tell publication is very unusual in Finland.
The narrative of the book is dominated by text messages between Ruusunen and the prime minister, a divorcee who was once voted Finland's sexiest man by a women's magazine.
Vanhanen has not commented on the book except to say he was offended because his feelings and those of his children toward his 2005 divorce were made public.
Finnish media quoted him as telling the court on Friday that he was not asked for permission to publish the book. "Had I been asked, I certainly would not have given it," he told the court, according to the Ilta-Sanomat newspaper.
Finnish tabloids widely reported Vanhanen's nine-month affair in 2006 with Ruusunen, but many Finns felt she had overstepped the mark by publishing private details. Some 50,000 people signed an Internet petition objecting to it and voicing support for Vanhanen, whose two teenage children from his former marriage still live with him. Some bookstores refused to put it on the shelf.
Ruusunen, who has given numerous interviews and posed naked since she split up with Vanhanen, claims he has ruined her life. In the book, she said the couple first made contact on an Internet dating service and she wrote of passionate moments at the prime minister's house outside Helsinki.
Vanhanen, 52, separated from his wife, Merja, in 2005 after 20 years of marriage.