Andre Meister and Markus Beckedahl
A treason investigation into two journalists who reported that the German state planned to increase online surveillance has been suspended by the country’s prosecutor general following protests by leading voices across politics and media.
Harald Range, Germany’s prosecutor general, said on Friday he was halting the investigation “for the good of press and media freedom”. It was the first time in more than half a century that journalists in Germany had faced charges of treason.
Speaking to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Range said he would await the results of an internal investigation into whether the journalists from the news platform netzpolitik.org had quoted from a classified intelligence report before deciding how to proceed.
His announcement followed a deluge of criticism and accusations that Germany’s prosecutor had “misplaced priorities”, having failed to investigate with any conviction the NSA spying scandal revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, and targeting instead the two investigative journalists, Markus Beckedahl and Andre Meister.
In a scathing attack, the leading Green MP Renate Künast, who is also chair of the Bundestag’s legal affairs committee, called the investigation a “humiliation to the rule of law”. She accused Range of disproportionately targeting the two journalists, whilse ignoring the “massive spying and eavesdropping [conducted] by the NSA in Germany”.
Künast told the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger: “Nothing happened with that. If it wasn’t for investigative journalism, we would know nothing.”…
In articles that appeared on netzpolitik.org in February and April, the two reporters made reference to what is believed to be a genuine intelligence report that had been classified as confidential, which proposed establishing a new intelligence department to monitor the internet, in particular social media networks.
The federal prosecutor’s investigation was triggered by a complaint made by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) over the articles, which it said had been based on leaked documents…
In an act of solidarity, the research website Correctiv reported itself to the general prosecutor’s office on Friday, saying that it too was “guilty of treason”, at the same time as republishing the controversial documents originally published by netzpolitik.org.
“They should be investigating the whole lot of us!” said Correctiv’s editor-in-chief, Markus Grill. Meanwhile, German lawyers called for the abolition of the offence “journalistic treason”.
The uproar against NSA-style security measures seems to have had the desired effect for now. German justice minister, Heiko Maas, is requesting the dismissal and retirement of the chief federal prosecutor, Harald Range, who initiated the charges against the journalists.
Of course, I wouldn’t expect the same to happen here in the GOUSA. And it hasn’t. Much of our Free Press is owned by entertainment media corporations. They aren’t about the rock the boat. The Democratic Party couldn’t turn out a united demonstration for Free Speech if it threatened the military-industrial complex. Republicans would start wearing armbands if requested. And American Greens don’t seem able to generate a grassroots movement with the energy and smarts to grow into a national party.
Yup. Still a cynic. Mail me a penny postcard when Obama invites Ed Snowden to return home.