Media watchdog slams German president over editor threats

4th January 2012, Comments 0 comments

The media watchdog IPI slammed German President Christian Wulff Wednesday for threatening the editor-in-chief of a leading German daily to prevent the publication of a damaging article.

"Press freedom is in danger when those who hold high office attempt to wield influence over an editor-in-chief or publisher in order to suppress a critical article about themselves," IPI's board chairman Carl-Eugen Eberle said in a statement.

"Anyone who would seek to use the closeness of a personal contact to the editor-in-chief in order to steer the work of the newsroom endangers the impartiality and independence of journalists," he added.

"The president in particular should recognise and respect this."

Wulff, 52, landed in hot water last month when the powerful daily Bild reported he had concealed an advantageous home loan from the wife of a tycoon friend while premier of Lower Saxony state.

This week, it then emerged he had called Bild's editor-in-chief Kai Diekmann a day before the story's publication and threatened him with "war" if he went ahead with the report.

In a televised interview Wednesday, Wulff said he had apologised to Diekmann, but said he wanted to stay in office despite the mounting scandals.

© 2012 AFP

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