A court in Hamburg has issued a preliminary injunction banning 18 of the 24 verses in a German comedian’s satirical poem lampooning Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for being “abusive and defaming.”
The court order issued on Tuesday applies to the whole of Germany, Reuters reported.
“Through the poem’s reference to racist prejudice and religious slander as well as sexual habits, the verses in question go beyond what the petitioner [Erdogan] can be expected to tolerate,” the Hamburg court wrote.
The court said the decision was necessary to balance the right to artistic freedom and the personal rights of Turkey’s leader, but added that its ruling could be appealed.
Violating the decision could result in a fine of up to 250,000 euros ($282,000) or administrative detention of up to six months, Germany’s Spiegel Online reported.
Erdogan’s lawyer said he was content with the ruling, RIA Novosti reported, while the comedian’s defender stressed that the poem must be considered as a whole, claiming its verses had been taken out of context.
The poem, which was recited on German television by comedian Jan Boehmermann in late March, has become a bone of contention for Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as European audiences and the media.
After Erdogan demanded that German authorities press charges against the comedian for allegedly insulting him as Turkish President, Merkel allowed her prosecutors to pursue the case against Boehmermann.
A separate complaint being dealt with in the western German city of Mainz is still being processed, with prosecutors saying it is as yet unclear when a decision is to be made on whether to go ahead with the case, according to Reuters.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that NATO is preparing to deploy four battalions — approximately 4,000 troops — to Russia’s western border. US Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work was in Brussels today to announce the Western military escalation on Russia’s border, which he claimed was in response to Russian military exercises near the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
According to Deputy Secretary of Defense Work, two of the battalions would come from the United States, with one each coming from the UK and Germany. This announcement might come as news to German lawmakers, as such a significant German military presence on Russia’s borders has not been approved by Berlin. Although German Chancellor Angela Merkel has given Washington reason to believe that Germany would join the escalation, the move is considered highly controversial in a Germany growing weary of following US foreign policy dictates. In fact, according to recent polling, only one in three Germans supports the idea of the German military defending the Baltics even if there were a Russian attack. A clear majority of Germans oppose NATO military bases on Russia’s border.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the UK government has not agreed to send the troops either, despite the claims of unnamed “Western officials.”
The US deputy secretary of defense explained in Brussels that the US must send these thousands of troops thousands of miles from the US because Russia is conducting military exercises on its own soil and the US finds that intolerable.
Said Deputy Secretary Work:
The Russians have been doing a lot of snap exercises right up against the borders, with a lot of troops. From our perspective, we could argue this is extraordinarily provocative behavior.
What is not made clear in the article but should not be lost on readers is that “right up against the borders” is still Russian territory. But “right up against the borders” on the other side — where the US military is to be deployed and to conduct exercises — is most definitely not US territory. In other words, the US is traveling thousands of miles to place its troops on Russia’s border in response to Russian troops inside its border.
Here is Washington logic: Russian military exercises inside Russia are “extraordinarily provocative” but somehow stationing thousands of US troops on the border with Russia is not at all provocative. Just like US military exercises in the Baltic sea some 50 miles from Russian soil is not at all provocative, but Russian military plane fly-overs in response to these US military exercises is “reckless and provocative.” And just like the US flying a spy plane over highly-secret Russian military facilities on the Kamchatka peninsula is not at all provocative, but when the spy plane is buzzed by another Russian fighter, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warns, “This is unprofessional. This is dangerous. This could lead somewhere.”
It’s never provocative when Washington’s interventionists do it.
In their book “Network of Death”, three German journalists revealed illegal arms supplies from Germany to Mexico. However, instead of being praised for their efforts, all three of them may face a court trial on alleged breach of the German Press Act and disclosure of secret information.
The book written by German journalists Daniel Harrich, Danuta Harrich-Sandberg und Jürgen Grässlin revealed illegal arms supplies by German company Heckler & Koch to Mexico. It turned out that the weapons — G36 assault rifles made by the firm — appeared in the Mexican states of Guerrero and Chihuahua, although the supplies to these states were prohibited by German authorities.
In 2005, the German regulatory agency allowed the delivery of 9,000 assault rifles to Mexico between 2006 and 2009 on the condition that they won’t be available in the Mexican states of Guerrero, Jalisco, Chiapas and Chihuahua.
However, it recently became known that the arms not only leaked to these territories, but were also allegedly used during the assault on Ayotzinapa students on September 26, where six people were killed, 25 injured and 43 disappeared.
In their book, journalists not only revealed the fact that the German company illegally delivered G36 assault rifles to Mexico, but also accused German authorities of negligence and complicity in the deal.
“In our latest book, […] we’ve published highly sensitive documents as proof for our assumptions that not only Heckler & Koch is responsible for this, but also the Federal Office on Export and the Federal Ministry of Economics,” Grässlin said in an interview with Sputnik.
According to the journalist, both authorities made the deliveries to Mexico possible, although the German Foreign Ministry had initially prohibited the supply of weapons to the country. In 2010, Grässlin filed an application with a request to start an investigation into the case, but as a result only employees of the company, and none of the authorities were prosecuted.
“The Stuttgart public prosecution office still refuses to prosecute those in the Federal Ministry of Economics and the Federal Export Office responsible and co-responsible for it, and this is a scandal,” Grässlin said.
Instead, surprisingly, the Munich public prosecution office is currently considering an option to prosecute journalists themselves.
Under paragraph 353d of the Criminal Code, the journalists might be charged with “violation of professional and special secrecy”. The law prohibits disclosing messages, documents or any other information from a criminal case. The violation is punishable with a fine or imprisonment of up to one year.
NATO is looking at a number of strategies to boost its presence in Eastern Europe, including sending German troops to Lithuania, according to German media citing a Defense Ministry spokesman.
“There are various models under preliminary discussions and voting in NATO is underway,” the ministry’s spokesman Jens Flosdorff told the DPA news agency. “Decisions will be made this fall at the NATO summit in Warsaw.”
The remark confirmed Thursday’s reports that the country’s military was ready for a broader engagement to protect NATO’s eastern frontiers. The military alliance is to meet in the Polish capital Warsaw in July. The 28 member states are expected to agree on a roadmap to enhance combat readiness in Eastern Europe amid what NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has described as a challenging regional security situation.
Der Spiegel reports that German armed forces may send some 1,000 soldiers to take part in the NATO mission in Lithuania if the alliance’s members approve the plan.
In March, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said he hoped Germany would support the need to increase NATO’s military presence in the Baltic States. He urged NATO not to rush to get back to normal dialogue with Russia as long as Moscow does not change its “aggressive policy.” NATO suspended all military cooperation with Moscow in the aftermath of Crimea’s accession to Russia.
According to Linkevicius’ comments made for the American newspaper Politico, a true partnership between Russia and NATO can only be restored if Moscow takes steps to withdraw its troops from Ukraine and ceases to carry out military exercises and military aircraft flights in the Baltic Sea.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov singled out Lithuania as the “most aggressive, Russo-phobic country” within NATO, adding it is pushing the alliance in an “anti-Russian direction.”
“After they [the Baltic nations] became free – the way they perceive it – and independent, after they proclaimed all the decisions concerning their sovereignty, they began to strive for NATO membership,” Lavrov said in an interview published Friday in the Swedish Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
“Moscow didn’t make a single attempt to pull them back, to say nothing of using force against them […] they were admitted to NATO but failed to develop any kind of tranquility and this particularly concerns Lithuania. It now makes up the most aggressive and Russo-phobic kernel within NATO,” he said.
Anti-Russian rhetoric, however, does not sit well with citizens of NATO member-states. As a recent Pew Research Center poll revealed, majorities in such NATO states as Germany (56 percent), Italy (51 percent) and France (53 percent) oppose the idea of protecting the Baltic States from a “military threat” allegedly posed by Russia. According to the poll, some 58 percent of Germans surveyed do not deem Russia a threat to their country, with 49 percent firmly against the idea of permanent deployment of NATO forces in Poland or any of the Baltic States.
Last week, permanent envoys from Russia and NATO member states met for the first time in two years. The meeting failed to yield any significant results due to “profound and persistent disagreements” on a number of geopolitical issues.
NATO has been increasing its military presence in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea since the Ukrainian crisis began in 2014, in response to what it considers Russia’s aggression. Moscow has repeatedly dismissed accusations related to Ukraine, at the same time stressing that increased NATO activities near Russian borders could undermine both regional and global stability.
21st Century Wire | April 27, 2016
All of the recent, worrying attacks on free speech in Germany are starting to make sense.
It has just been announced that the German Air Force is set to start work on a $65 million project to establish a new military air base at Turkey’s Incirlik air base. It is set to be finished by Summer 2017.
RT reports that the project is looking to build accommodation for the permanent deployment of around 400 German soldiers, a fully equipped command and control post and facilities for a full wing of Tornado fighter-jets and an Airbus tanker.
In the weeks before this announcement, Germany began using a very obscure and rarely used law that apparently prevents citizens from criticising foreign heads of state to begin prosecuting a German comedian that had mocked Turkish President Erdogan.
German Chancellor Merkel took much criticism for allowing the prosecution to go ahead, but now we can see why Merkel was doing everything possible to appease the Turkish President.
It is definitely possible that Erdogan threatened to stop the proposed development of the German air base in Turkey unless Merkel stamped on his critics.
Erdogan has many reasons to fear criticism, primarily because the vast majority of it is absolutely justified. Turkey has been documented to be working with ISIS to smuggle oil out of Syria, and the Turkish government has just faced protests for suggesting a religious constitution should be enacted.
The economic situation is also taking a turn for the worst in Erdogan’s Turkey, as tourism to the nation has dropped a massive 40% due to the government’s reckless actions.
The fact that what is clearly free speech has been so openly trampled upon, to further the development of military progress, suggests that supposed Western priorities with peace and democracy are far from sincere.
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) has accused the Berlin-based theater project, Refugee Club Impulse (RCI) of harboring anti-Israel Lebanese Islamic resistance and political party Hizbullah agents.
The Jewish lobby has accused Nadia Grossmann (Jewish), artistic director of RCI and her sister Maryam, a pedagogical director at RCI of organizing the annual pro-Hizbullah and pro-Iran Al-Quds Day.
Iran’s Imam Khomeini declared the last Friday of the month of Muslim fasting as Al-Quds Day in 1981 in support of the Palestinian struggle to regain their land stolen by European Zionist Jews in 1948.
“The RCI is expected to receive 100,000 euros from Berlin government for refugee work. German taxpayers [funds] have been furnished to the RCI for number of years,” said Benjamin Weinthal, The Jerusalem Post, April 20,2016.
Pity! Weinthal’s Zionist entity received only $93 billion from German taxpayers since 1950s.
Nadia and Miryams’ father Jurgen Grossmann told the press that his daughters were not co-organizers of the International Al-Quds Day, but that they along with their father support Palestinian cause.
Volker Beck, a Green Party member in the Bundestag (parliament) and former spokesperson of LGBT Germany, and Benedikt Lux, member of the Berlin City Senate have raised their concerns over “the danger of giving taxpayers’ money to RCI that supports antisemitic forces.”
On March 16, 2016, Barack Obama’s Czar to monitor so-called anti-Semitism around the world, Ira Forman (a Zionist Jew) delivered a speech in Berlin in which he warned Europeans that they risk turning their continent into a breeding ground for the vilest form of Jew hatred.
I suppose, this idiot like Netanyahu too believes that the Mufti of Palestine ordered Adolf Hitler to burn 6 million Jews.
During a rally supporting comedian Jan Boehmermann, Bruno Kramm, the head of the Berlin branch of Germany’s Pirate Party, was arrested for “insulting a representative of a foreign state” by quoting a line from the comic’s satirical poem slamming Erdogan.
German police arrested Kramm while he was conducting a “literary analysis” of the German comedian’s satirical poem in front of the Turkish embassy in Berlin during a protest held under the slogan “No Power for Erdowahn, Freedom Instead of Erdogan” [Keine Macht dem Erdowahn, Freiheit statt Erdogan], the Morgenpost newspaper reported.
The politician cited a couple of lines from the now-infamous piece that landed Boehmermann in hot water, namely, “Kicking Kurds, beating Christians,” which refer to the Turkish authorities’ reported crackdown on minorities.
Kramm was approached by several police officers as he was reciting the lines and taken into custody. The police dispersed the gathering shortly thereafter.
One of the activists, Franz-Josef Schmitt, posted a photo of a police van, saying that nobody is allowed to visit Kramm.
According to the newspaper, police have accused Kramm of violating a rarely used section of the German criminal code, namely section 103, that prohibits insulting “organs and representatives of foreign states.”
“When people slightly criticize the government in Turkey, they are persecuted, beaten or disappear. In contrast to this, the dictator Erdogan is allowed to significantly restrict the right of assembly and the freedom of expression in Germany merely for a statement, that he beats Kurds and Christians,” Kramm had written in a statement published on the German Pirate Party’s official website.
“Who makes such people agents of inhumane refugee policy, should not be surprised when fundamental rights disappear also in Europe,” he added, referring to the heavily criticized EU-Turkey migrant deal recently praised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The police had reportedly sanctioned the rally on condition that the activists would not quote any lines from Boehmermann’s poem, because “it may constitute a criminal offense of defamation,” said police spokesman Stefan Redlich, as cited by Morgenpost.
Ahead of the rally, Schmitt wrote that “police have explicitly banned us from performing critical dialectical analysis of the Boehmermann’s poem…otherwise they will bring criminal charges and remove a microphone.”
The party says it has been staging weekly demonstrations in front of the Turkish embassy on Fridays to protest the “systemic terror of censorship, oppression, despotism and killings of the dictator Erdogan.”
Earlier on Friday, Merkel admitted that it had been a mistake to express her personal opinion of the German comedian’s poem, which she condemned for being “deliberately insulting.”
“In hindsight, that was an error,” Merkel said in Berlin on Friday, adding that she feared that her comments might be taken to mean that “freedom of opinion is not important, that freedom of the press is not important.”
However, she didn’t backtrack on authorizing the prosecution of the disrespectful comedian under section 103, despite the public outcry.
“I believe [allowing the investigation] to be correct, same as before,” she stressed, as cited by DW.
Boehmermann suspended his show last week after Merkel heeded Turkish President Erdogan’s calls to begin the proceedings.
German intelligence agencies and police have granted asylum to roughly 1,000 refugees in exchange for sensitive information, often by means of “intervention” in the decisions of the national immigration authority, the government has said.
Intelligence services and the federal police have granted asylum to almost 1,000 migrants over the past 15 years, the government’s official response to a parliamentary request for information said. According to the paper, between 1958 and 2013 Germany’s main intelligence agency, the BND, operated a so-called Main Questioning Facility (HBW) which was in charge of collecting specific intelligence from migrants entering the country.
Many “questioning” sessions involved US officers from the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), though respondents were not aware of the officials’ real identities. Other German agencies such as the federal police, customs service and regional domestic intelligence authorities were also said to have access to recruiting their own informants among migrants.
The HBW would then ask the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) to grant asylum to each migrant deemed suitable to become a BND source. Such requests, described in the paper as “interventions,” were justified by the claim that the migrants would face imminent death or torture if forced to return to their countries of origin.
Most informants came from the Middle East – with the peak figures in 2001-2002 after 9/11 – followed by nationals of post-Soviet countries, Africa, Asia and the Balkans, the document says. Notably, the immigration service rejected two asylum “interventions” in 2002, even after those informants had been recruited by the BND.
The BND’s “questioning facility” allegedly maintained close contact with both the DIA and NSA, allowing them to access intelligence collected from migrants. In several cases, the intelligence was used to identify targets for US drone strikes in the Middle East and Africa. The government document described the information as extremely valuable for military use.
But Martina Renner, an MP from Die Linke party who co-authored the request for information, told Die Zeit newspaper that “the quality of information obtained could be very questionable.” She argued that refugees – keen to get permission for their stay in Germany – would say anything they believed their questioners wanted to hear.
One of the most dramatic examples, Renner said, was the DIA agent codenamed “Curveball” (real name Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi), who initially defected from Iraq to Germany in 1999.
His fake testimonies about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program were used by the US as a rationale to invade Iraq in 2003, despite both the BND and British MI6 questioning the authenticity of the claims.
Although the BND’s questioning facility was officially closed in 2013, the recruitment of agents from among migrants did not stop. Germany’s domestic intelligence, the Federal Service for the Protection of the Constitution, contacts asylum seekers on a “case-by-case” basis, while the BND still monitors refugee hostels to look for prospective informants, Die Zeit reported.
The Bundesbank has announced plans to repatriate some of Germany’s gold reserves from abroad. At least half of the country’s gold would be transferred to Frankfurt by 2020, according to Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann.
Weidmann says 366 tons of gold worth €11.5 billion have been delivered to Frankfurt so far. “There are now about 1,400 tons or 41.5 percent of our gold reserves here,” the banker said.
In October last year Germany’s gold reserves stood to around 3,384 tonnes, worth about €120 billion, which is the second largest in the world after the US.
Weidmann added the rest of the gold will remain in New York and London, which he says are as safe as Germany. In case of emergency, these reserves would quickly be converted on the markets in these cities, the banker said.
The Bundesbank has been criticized at home for keeping a major part of Germany’s gold reserves abroad. Critics are demanding the complete return of the gold to the country. They regard the gold as insurance if a crisis comes, and the immediate physical availability would be the decisive criterion.
When trying to move gold from New York in 2014, the Bundesbank met obstacles from US authorities when officials tried to inspect the German gold kept in US vaults.
“I’m no conspiracy theorist, but the Bundesbank should be able to audit the gold once a year like it does with reserves in Frankfurt,” Hans Olaf Henkel, a German member of the European Parliament, told RT.
Some even doubted the German gold is still physically there.
“We are still missing … published lists of gold bar number, even though the US Federal reserve publishes this list for their own gold,” said Peter Boehringer, founder of the Repatriate our Gold Campaign.
According to disclosed data, the German government has approved several deals for the export of arms to countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia as the kingdom continues its deadly aggression against the impoverished nation of Yemen.
According to an Economy Ministry letter seen by Reuters on Monday, the EU powerhouse will deliver 23 Airbus military helicopters to Riyadh.
In the letter to lawmakers in the economy committee of the lower house of the parliament, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel explained that the government’s Federal Security Council had also approved a deal by Heckler & Koch to deliver 130 machine pistols and automatic rifles to the United Arab Emirates and allowed Rheinmetall to export 65,000 mortar cartridges to the country.
The United Arab Emirates is among Saudi Arabia’s allies in their invasion against Yemen.
It also gave the green light for Heckler & Koch’s delivery of 660 machine guns, 660 additional gun barrels and 550 sub-machine guns to Oman.
The government also approved the delivery of five military helicopters by Airbus to Thailand and the export of nearly 490 machine pistols and automatic rifles by Heckler & Koch to Indonesia.
In January, Gabriel had said Germany may look harder at its arms exports to Saudi Arabia after the Persian Gulf kingdom carried out a mass execution causing international outcry.
Saudi Arabia is also widely believed to be financing to Takfiri militants wreaking havoc in the Middle East.
Riyadh has also been engaged in military operations in Yemen since late March last year. At least 8,400 people, among them 2,236 children, have been killed so far in the aggression and 16,015 others sustained injuries. Tens of Saudi solders as well as mercenary forces have been killed in the aggression.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked for business representatives reeling from the costly effects of anti-Russian sanctions to remain patient at the Christian Democratic Union’s (CDU) economic conference, the German news agency DPA reported.
“The sanctions have hit some sectors of the economy hard,” Merkel said in her annual address to the conference in Stralsund, northeast Germany, on Friday.
She told those present that the anti-Russian sanctions, which resulted in a 25 percent (7.5 billion euros, $8.2 billion) drop in German exports to Russia last year, will be lifted in accordance with the Minsk Agreements that the representatives of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia agreed upon in February 2015.
There is no evidence that Russia has not fulfilled the conditions of the agreement, and earlier this month Russia’s Permanent Representative to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Alexander Lukashevich, told the OSCE’s Permanent Council meeting about Moscow’ concern that Kiev is not carrying out its obligations under the agreement.
© Sputnik/ Irina Geraschenko
Breaches of the agreement include the bombardment of residential homes by the Ukrainian military, the shelling of a trip by the Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, and Kiev’s failure to pass legislation that would provide a special status to the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.
“One of the key problems is that our colleagues pretend that Kiev is faithfully complying with the Package of Measures. In fact, it’s the other way round,” Lukashevich said.
“The Minsk Package of Measures is the foundation of the peace process via a direct dialogue between the parties to the Ukraine conflict. It provides a framework for a sustainable solution to the crisis, and defines the principles of conserving the Donetsk and Lugansk regions as part of Ukraine with constitutional and legislative guarantees ensuring the rights of the people of Donbass.”
At least 34 percent of surveyed German human resources directors intend to hire refugees this year or next year, Spiegel Online news website reported, citing a study conducted by the Ifo research center.
It was noted in the article that the number of people who were ready to hire asylum seekers had increased from about seven percent in the past two years.
Europe has been beset by a massive refugee crisis, with hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants fleeing their home countries to escape violence and poverty. According to German Interior Ministry estimates, the country registered some 1.1 million refugees in 2015, nearly five times more than the number registered in 2014.