German lawmaker resigns after child porn raid

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Joerg Tauss, whose homes and offices were raided in a search for illicit material, relinquished his seat in the Bundestag lower house as well on its education, research and media affairs committee.

Berlin -- A German lawmaker under investigation for possession of child pornography said he resigned from all his political offices Friday to avoid damage to his party six months before a national election.

Joerg Tauss, whose homes and offices were raided Thursday in a search for illicit material, relinquished his seat in the Bundestag lower house as well on its education, research and media affairs committee, he said on his website.

The 55-year-old will also stand down as general secretary of the Social Democrats (SPD) in his home state of Baden-Wuerttemberg "in order to avert damage to my party and my parliamentary group."

The SPD is the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel's grand coalition government. The scandal broke six months before Germany is to hold a general election, with the SPD trailing far behind Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats.

The Bundestag stripped Tauss of his immunity Thursday.

Tauss has denied any wrongdoing, saying he helped draft child-protection laws including measures against child pornography as part of his work on the parliamentary committee.

"I am absolutely sure I can be quickly cleared of the accusations against me," he said.

The state prosecutor's office in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe, which launched the probe against him, has not ruled out a "plausible" explanation for the evidence against him.

Tauss said in the statement on his website that he would fully cooperate with investigators and insisted that he had devoted much of his political career to protecting children.

"As the media policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group, I have always fought hard for better protection of children and youths on the Internet and for a decisive campaign against child pornography," he said.

Tauss, however, recently clashed with Family Affairs Minister Ursula von der Leyen over her calls for Internet service providers to block sites that post child pornography.

The deputy had argued it would be more effective to pursue perpetrators rather than pulling the plug on website operators who may have unwittingly featured illicit material. He accused Von der Leyen of trying to score political points with the issue.

The online service of Spiegel magazine reported that a man who had been accused of distributing child pornography in the past was found to have been in possession of two private phone numbers for Tauss, as well as his home address.

Spiegel said the man from Bremerhaven in northern Germany also sent Tauss a DVD and exchanged 23 text and multimedia messages with him including a pornographic video sequence with a child.

State prosecutors declined to comment on the report.

Deborah Cole/AFP/Expatica

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