back to article Netzpolitik spy journo treason case stalls, chief prosecutor told to quit

Germany's Attorney General Harald Range says “political interference” has forced him to halt a treason investigation into two Netzpolitik journalists. The chief prosecutor claimed journos Markus Beckedahl and Andre Meister had betrayed state secrets by reporting on the Euro nation's domestic spy agency and its plans to snoop …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “Political interference” forced Germany's Attorney General to halt a treason investigation into two Netzpolitik's journalists, he claimed Tuesday, with the official claiming the journos, Markus Beckedahl and Andre Meister, had indeed betrayed state secrets.

    Fucking awful - and who the hell pays his bills? Yup the people who notionally vote for the administration that has decided to restrict (I don't say stop) this type of abuse. See Spycatcher, Zircon ect etc etc etc in the Uk for example. But I suppose economical with the actualite would not be an appropriate German phrase.

  2. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
    Pint

    High caliber foot-gun operational and ready

    ... watch the news for politico muppets playing with it.

    Beer, next to popcorn.

  3. zerowaitstate

    Pot and Kettle

    Given that the prosecution was political (treason is pretty much a political charge by definition), it makes sense that the defense would also be political.

  4. viscount
    FAIL

    Two wrongs don't make a right

    It was probably wrong to investigate/threaten treason, but having the judicial process quashed by elected politicians is quite bad too. Operational police and prosecutory authorities should be independent of the executive.

    On this logic, what else will politicians like to quash? Investigation of their mates' tax affairs?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Two wrongs don't make a right

      But that's the whole point of separation of powers: no one branch of government can go it alone, and if one does get out of line it's the responsibility of one of the others to stop it. The system fails completely, of course, when the independence of each branch is a sham (as in the case of various oligarchies or dictatorships that pretend to be democratic republics), or where even given real legal power to do something, they fail due to stupidity, laziness, greed or outright cowardice. This was one of those "bad cases make bad law" situations in any event. As someone else commented, by its very nature treason is a political crime. In this case, in fact, arresting and charging these two with treason could be viewed as its own kind of interference. It's a classic case of a state actor infringing on freedom of the press. That was a controversial topic back during the Cold War, but in light of its aftermath (the freeing of East Germany and ultimate reunification), I'm not surprised that some politicians in Germany would realize they needed to stand up for it.

      1. viscount

        Re: Two wrongs don't make a right

        Firstly, the journalists were neither arrested nor charged. They were put under investigation.

        Secondly, your point about separation of powers is misleading. Yes, one hand should watch the other. But the way that it should work for a case like this is that the executive decides the law is wrong and changes it via the legislature, not that is sacks the independent prosecutor (as has just happened) because they do not like his individual decision. Alternatively the law is okay but the prosecutor got it wrong, which the judiciary would decide when necessary.

        I go back to my question: today the German executive has decided it does not like a prosecution for treason. Great. Next week, they decide they do not like a powerful company or individual being investigated for tax evasion. Is that okay too?

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Two wrongs don't make a right

        But that's the whole point of separation of powers: no one branch of government can go it alone, and if one does get out of line it's the responsibility of one of the others to stop it

        But ... isn't the prosecutor is part of the executive branch (that's what he is: the attack dog of the executive). So if the minister reins him in isn't this entirely appropriate? Otherwise how could the justice minister fire the dude?

        It sounds to me that this "separation of power" talk is so much waahambulance stupidity.

        "Stop this bullshit and go home"

        "No I won't"

        "FIRED!"

        1. viscount

          Re: Two wrongs don't make a right

          I believe you are correct: this prosecutor was in the bureaucracy under the executive line, a bit like a civil servant. So the justice minister can sack him. That does not make it the right thing to do and exerts a chilling effect on future politically unpopular prosecutions.

          An analogy with the civil service would be that a politician might be able to get a civil servant fired for incompetence (long shot) but would not be able to dismiss a civil servant for rigorously applying the law of the land.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another day …

    … another reason to feel all warm and cuddly about being a citizen of the German Banana Repulic.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Another day …

      You feel ambivalent about this outcome?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Another day …

        What's to downvote?

        Yes, I do indeed feel ambivalent. Range has not been doing a good job and it was high time he left the scene –  but do you believe his successor will investigate, say, the NSA-issue with full force? Ha! Range is a pawn sacrifice. He had to go because he dared to speak up and because others up the food chain are in desperate need to save their necks. You know, those who claim ignorance and denegate Range's actions – as if the sole purpose of this endeavor was not to be able to launch full-on surveillance measures on Netzpolitik.org in order to uncover their sources. Should Range decide to talk now, we are up for a very interesting summer.

        One could indeed feel like there was an "Abyss of Treason" (alluding to the Spiegel Affair of '62) present here but somehow I doubt it being due to the actions of the journalists.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          So to be clear

          What we see executed here is a cruel joke, a soap opera as Techdirt describes it. Range's ousting functions to calm the grumbling masses who want to see "justice served" for the attack on freedom of press but fail to realize the big picture which happens to be much more ugly.

          https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150804/10284931846/german-justice-minister-fires-top-prosecutor-over-treason-probe-into-journalists-after-war-words.shtml

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
            Big Brother

            Re: So to be clear

            Range's ousting functions to calm the grumbling masses who want to see "justice served" for the attack on freedom of press but fail to realize the big picture which happens to be much more ugly.

            Frankyl I still don't see what you are alluding to. A conspiracy that failed and therefore is hiding a BIGGER consipracy?

        2. Hollerith 1

          Re: Another day …

          And now (see update) Range has left. It will be interesting indeed to see what happens next.

  6. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Devil

    LOL

    Kanonen auf Spatzen.

    Outcome predictable.

    Prosecutor should have shown some good judgment instead of going full out.

    NEXT!

  7. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

    nice to see

    sadly, I do not think Theresa or David will learn from this lesson anything ... or that this leak will stop spying program in Germany either.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Needless surveillance is treason

    If a republic or democracy is empowered by the citizenry, but doing something which is not in the interests of that citizenry then it is the government that is acting treasonous. Is mass surveillance in your interest?

    Is mass surveillance misused? Is it likely to find what is not there to justify itself? The government does not function for itself. If it is maintaining 'sovreignty" at the expense of your's, that government betrays the reason for its existence.

    Governments which cannot be bothered to maintain databases correlating birth certificates to death certificates, or keep accurate demographics want to see your dick pics for terrorism. Seem legitimate to you?

    1. Hollerith 1

      Re: Needless surveillance is treason

      Adam Smith said (to compress) all capitalism inexorably leads to monopoly. Do all forms of government inexorably lead to oligarchy or even tyranny? Smith said that Governemnt has to regulate capitalism to forestall monopolies. But who forestalls governments? By the time they need it, the People have ceased to be a power.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Needless surveillance is treason

        Adam Smith said (to compress) all capitalism inexorably leads to monopoly.

        What the fuck am I reading?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Needless surveillance is treason

          Seems perfectly clear to me even if the summary (compression) loses some of the subtleties (and not so)

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Needless surveillance is treason

          What the fuck am I reading?

          An accurate summation of the total body of Adam Smith's works. I wouldn't expect that you know them, as given your posting history you seem quite focused on the "selected works" that drive the very pro-market anti-liberal American-style conservatism. But the OP is not wrong.

          Adam Smith did in fact warm ardently, stridently and often about the dangers of capitalism and tried to ensure that we build in safeguards against what he saw as inevitable issues and dangerous excesses. Too bad that part of Smith's teachings are so conveniently left out of the education systems of certain places. This willful ignorance has cost us all more than we'll likely ever be able to count.

  9. Florida1920
    Holmes

    Sometimes we have to put bureaucrats in their place

    Too many government employees, elected or not, in all countries, think they are the ruling class. And too many citizens, whether from apathy or fear, allow that delusion to persist. In fact, we citizens are the rulers and they're only the hired help. That includes all elected officials as well as the heads of so-called "security" agencies. Too bad if some of them have to be smacked upside the head once in a while to remind them of their place.

    1. Fatman
      Joke

      Re: Sometimes we have to put bureaucrats in their place

      Might that be in front of a firing squad????

      1. Cpt Blue Bear

        Re: Sometimes we have to put bureaucrats in their place

        "The English find it necessary to shoot an admiral now and again to encourage the others"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sometimes we have to put bureaucrats in their place

      "The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it's goodbye to the Bill of Rights. " -- H.L. Mencken

  10. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    They may have committed some Light Treason.

    Oh wait, that was George Bluth.

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