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Lawsuit in Germany against two journalists in the 'Saxony Corruption Quagmire'

Criminal proceedings have been initiated in Dresden against two Leipzig journalists. The charges arise from articles written in news magazine Der Spiegel and in Zeit Online in 2008 on the “Saxony Corruption Quagmire” – a possible corruption affair that could have involved high-ranking members of the legal system.

Ginzel and Datt were the authors of the Zeit Online report and co-authors of the Spiegel article. They have been accused of making insulting allegations, defamation, and libel. “Anything else would be scandalous,” said Reporter ohne Grenzen (ROG) board spokesperson Michael Rediske in Berlin. “A conviction would hinder any future reporting of corruption affairs and thereby infringe upon freedom of the press.”

Even the opening of criminal proceedings against the freelance journalists Arndt Ginzel and Thomas Datt, who investigated the so-called “Saxony Corruption Quagmire,” was more than questionable, press group ROG said. The co-plaintiffs did not even have the courage to pursue the supposed defaming statements under existing press laws. “A good deal in the case points to the desire on the part of authorities to exert pressure on investigative journalists,” criticised Rediske.

On August 5, the accused will present their closing words in court. The verdict is scheduled to be announced on August 13.

The accusations, criticised ROG, only refer to particular formulations in the texts and have no bearing on the essence of the investigative reports. “This case is an attempt to unfairly criminalise journalistic practices. One of the most important functions of the media is to uncover abuses. A criminal conviction of the two journalists would have a deterrent affect on their colleagues also investigating this affair,” warns Rediske.

“Compared internationally, the situation of freedom of the press in Germany is currently good. With its adherence to the rule of law, Germany is a model for many other states in the world, where journalists are routinely subject to arbitrary criminal proceedings. A conviction for the two reporters could put this status in question,” said Rediske.

Date posted: August 3, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 262