Friday, July 31, 2015

Journalism isn't treason

Back in February, German news website published stories based on leaked documents showing that the domestic intelligence agency BfV was seeking additional funding to increase online surveillance and monitor social media. The German government's response? Investigate them for treason:

Germany has opened a treason investigation into a news website a broadcaster said had reported on plans to increase state surveillance of online communications.

German media said it was the first time in more than 50 years journalists had faced treason charges, and some denounced the move as an attack on the freedom of the press.

“The federal prosecutor has started an investigation on suspicion of treason into the articles ... published on the internet blog,” a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office said.

She added the move followed a criminal complaint by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), over articles about the BfV that appeared on the website on 25 February and 15 April. It said the articles had been based on leaked documents.

So there you have it: in modern "democratic" Germany, any attempt at public oversight of spies or questioning their role (or their budget) is treasonous and punishable by jail. The public are not allowed to question their political masters, the intelligence agencies. Which sounds like exactly the sort of undemocratic attitudes the "Office for the Protection of the Constitution" should be investigating...