The OSCE media watchdog urges Germany to drop case against 17 journalists in CIA matter

10th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

10 August 2007, VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ A media watchdog urged German authorities Thursday to drop criminal proceedings against 17 journalists who published allegedly classified information about possible German complicity in CIA flights transporting terrorist suspects to secret prisons.

10 August 2007

VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ A media watchdog urged German authorities Thursday to drop criminal proceedings against 17 journalists who published allegedly classified information about possible German complicity in CIA flights transporting terrorist suspects to secret prisons.

The 17 journalists, along with several members of parliament, are under investigation over the alleged leak of classified documents given to a parliamentary committee examining the possible German link and detentions of two men.

They include reporters for some of Germany's top media outlets, such as Der Spiegel, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Die Zeit, Die Welt and Stern.

Journalists should not be prosecuted for reporting information that is in the public interest, said Miklos Haraszti, media freedom representative for the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Even if they publish classified material, they should not be charged unless prosecutors have reasonable suspicions, backed by evidence, that they broke the law obtaining it, Haraszti said in a letter to German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries.

"I call on the German authorities to stop prosecuting the journalists and ensure that media professionals can continue informing the public of important matters without intimidation," he said.

Haraszti called the continuing legal proceedings "especially regrettable" in light of a February ruling by Germany's highest court, which found that authorities violated press freedoms by raiding the offices of a magazine that cited classified information in an article about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the late leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

The German parliamentary committee has been investigating the government's role in so-called CIA "extraordinary rendition" flights that had layovers in Germany. It also is examining the disputed kidnapping of Khalid el-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, and the detention of Murat Kurnaz, a German-born Turkish national.

El-Masri claims he was seized in Macedonia in 2003 and taken by CIA operatives to Afghanistan, where he was allegedly abused before being released in Albania in 2004.

Kurnaz was detained in Pakistan in 2001, turned over to U.S. authorities and held at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay until his release in 2006

AP

Subject: German news

0 Comments To This Article