Hundreds Of Journalists, Researchers, Concerned Citizens Sign Letter Protesting Netzpolitik 'Treason' Investigation

from the sign-the-letter dept

We've written a few times now about how the news site Netzpolitik has been investigated for treason for reporting on some efforts to expand German internet surveillance. The site published the leaked documents supporting that claim, which would be clearly protected by the First Amendment here in the US. However, in Germany, it resulted in a treason investigation... and widespread protests as people are quite rightly concerned about the chilling effects of targeting journalists. There's also been some political mudslinging as there's been some debate over whether or not the investigation should move forward.

Now a bunch of people (including me) have signed an open letter protesting the investigation. The statement is quite short and to the point:
"The investigation against Netzpolitik.org for treason and their unknown sources is an attack against the free press. Charges of treason against journalists performing their essential work is a violation of the fifth article of the German constitution. We demand an end to the investigation into Netzpolitik.org and their unknown sources."
You can also see the statement in a variety of other languages as well. The statement has received many hundreds of signatures already and you can add your name as well.

Filed Under: free speech, germany, journalism, surveillance, treason, whistleblower
Companies: netzpolitik


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Aug 2015 @ 12:12am

    Wasnt the big guy behind this investigation fired alredy? I thought they threw him under and are trying to end this quickly before people really start complaining.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Aug 2015 @ 1:02am

      Re:

      If you mean by "big guy" the one person that investigated and had to do what the guy that fired him and said he was never told about the whole thing (unless of course you include the briefing in may) then yeah...I guess the "big guy" is gone.
      You might include the chief of the german counter part of homeland security who started the whole thing but hey, secrets and all so he can't be blamed or prosecuted.

      Fyi, the prosecutor has to do what the minister of justice tells him, and the minister of justice has to do what the chancelor aka Merkel tells him. But yeah sure, the guy who was responsible is gone.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nomad of Norad, 6 Aug 2015 @ 12:39am

    They've thrown him under the bus, yes, but there's no indication if the investigation has ceased. They want absolute confirmation that it has been, or if it hasn't been, to shut it down and *then* publicly confirm they've done so.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 6 Aug 2015 @ 2:05am

      Re:

      Uh, the "Landesverrat" investigation state is known. It is not ceased but rather "postponed". Which is very likely the state intended for it from the inception.

      As long as the state of a "Landesverrat" ("treason") investigation is "open", the normal protections of the press are suspended since the accusation is a real grave one. So the "Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz" is free to eavesdrop even on protected communications of the persons named in the indictment, namely the Netzpolitik journalists.

      This is very likely the state that Maas/Maaßen intended the investigation to be in in order to give them a legal excuse for pissing on the freedom of the press.

      Apparently Range did not understand the purpose of his orders and went about them according to the book. Which would have made the state of the investigation progress one way or another by determining liability of the journalists for the past publication one way or another when the actual goal was being able to set up a trap with the legal excuse of an inflated charge.

      All that was required for this to work was proper feet-dragging and Range failed to deliver and then exploded in rightful indignation when called on it.

      The feet-dragging now is provided by the change in "Generalbundesanwalt". Of course, the new one will first have to assume office and work himself into matters before making any decisions.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Aug 2015 @ 3:28pm

        Re: Re:

        " So the "Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz" is free to eavesdrop even on protected communications of the persons named in the indictment, namely the Netzpolitik journalists."

        Hey, they are only legaly able to so for the next 2 years. I mean come on... 2 years of everything you write,say on a phone, email or in a phone text beeing recorded... that's just what? 1 year short of what can be legaly recored of every German in a few months? Why even care?

        In 2-3 months all Germans will have all of their communication recorded for years by the "Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz" (read: German Homeland Security at least more or less because they sponsor rightwing terrorists (fact! they pay CIs who distribute the money to the rightwing/NeoNazis)). And still only a few thousand german people care. If you are German and care, ask whoever you meet in the bus or train to give you their cellphone and if they say "No!" or anything "WTF? WHY?" ask why they give their phone to the Gov who was recently hacked. That is no criminal offence because it is a simple question.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Martin, 6 Aug 2015 @ 2:18am

    "has been invesetigated"
    typo...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Aug 2015 @ 3:44am

    What Constitution?

    Charges of treason against journalists performing their essential work is a violation of the fifth article of the German constitution.

    Constitution? What's that? We asked the U.S. and they didn't know either.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 6 Aug 2015 @ 3:57am

      Re: What Constitution?

      Fun fact: Germany does not formally have a constitution. But its "Grundgesetz" takes the place as governing law for most purposes.

      Fun fact: the U.S. formally has a constitution.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Aug 2015 @ 4:14am

        Re: Re: What Constitution?

        Fun fact: Germany does not formally have a constitution. But its "Grundgesetz" takes the place as governing law for most purposes.

        Another fun fact: Germany doesn't have laws either. They have "Gesetze" instead. In fact, English isn't even their primary language (imagine that), so few things have English names there. "Grundgesetz" does, however, translate into "Constitution" in English.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          David, 6 Aug 2015 @ 5:37am

          Re: Re: Re: What Constitution?

          "Grundgesetz" does, however, translate into "Constitution" in English.

          Wrong. The word for "Constitution" is "Verfassung". Indeed, "Artikel 146" of the Grundgesetz states that the Grundgesetz will lose its validity on the day the Germans choose to pass a "Verfassung".

          The Grundgesetz was written after WWII for West Germany on order of the allied forces as a temporary substitute for a proper Verfassung. It's been doing a pretty good job and people have become used to it, so nobody could be bothered actually following through with creating a formal Constitution to supersede it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 6 Aug 2015 @ 11:22am

        Re: Re: What Constitution?

        Fun Fact: the U.S. formerly had a constitution.


        FTFY

        Seems like every politician or appointed head of a department is attacking key parts of the constitution these days. Flat out calling for the constitution to be tossed out all in the name of "security" despite their oath of office.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    NoahVail (profile), 6 Aug 2015 @ 5:30am

    Confirmation Email never arrived

    Signed, using a Hotmail account that predates Microsoft.
    The confirmation email never arrived so I guess my voice won't be heard.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 6 Aug 2015 @ 9:15am

      Re: Confirmation Email never arrived

      The confirmation email never arrived so I guess my voice won't be heard.

      What are you talking about? When you trip over something that's in your way, do you just lie there crying in the mud?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Aug 2015 @ 6:35am

    With the entire Netzpolitik debacle seemlingy no one has noticed that the Verteidigungsministerium (German DoD) used the copyright to get a newspaper to take down documents it's been hosting (via court order):
    http://www.funkemedien.de/de/presse/medienmitteilungen/news/Nach-Androhung-von-Zwangsvollstre ckung-FUNKE-stellt-Afghanistan-Papiere-offline/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Cressman, 6 Aug 2015 @ 7:48am

    Signed a letter?

    So, of course, the next step would be go after the people who some conveniently supplied their names on the letter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 6 Aug 2015 @ 9:12am

      Re: Signed a letter?

      I don't see that it is "the next step". The whole point of the "Landesverrat" accusation was to be proceed with source uncovering and whistleblower persecution at least under the color of law.

      That argument is not really going to fly against people signing a protest against a violation of press freedom. For that, one would have to switch to straightforward illegal measures.

      Since we are not talking about the U.S. but Germany here, that's not really "the next step" but rather a different level. So it would require different people and different (non-)authorizations with a different level of criminal energy. Possibly "with a little help from our friends".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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