APC Statement of Solidarity with Netzpolitik Journalists

Publisher: APCNews     04 August 2015

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) decries the now suspended treason investigation into Netzpolitik journalists Markus Beckedahl and Andre Meister. This investigation is an attack on press freedom and undermines the important role of the press in exposing surveillance practices by governments. Whistleblowers and the journalists they work with reveal information relevant to the public interest. They need protection, not prosecution for treason. APC has highlighted the importance of protecting whistleblowers in its recent submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, David Kaye.

It is clear that Netzpolitik’s revelations of plans to increase state surveillance of online communications are relevant to the public interest. “It is disappointing to see Germany take measures to increase its surveillance activities in secret after leading two UN resolutions on the right to privacy in the digital age, which called for ensuring transparency and accountability for state surveillance of communications, their interception and the collection of personal data,” says APC’s Deborah Brown.

Furthermore, we would like to highlight Markus Beckedahl and Andre Meister’s commitment to fundamental rights and freedoms on the internet since Netzpolitik’s establishment in 2002. “APC’s association with Markus Beckedahl goes back to the World Summit on the Information Society in the early 2000s where he did pioneering work on internet rights and free and open source software,” said Anriette Esterhuysen, executive director of APC.

We find it reprehensible that Beckedahl and Meister find themselves the targets of an outdated law, an act which will only serve to silence much needed public debate about internet surveillance. As APC member Dr Jeanette Hofmann, director of the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society points out, “given the lack of effective processes at present to democratically evaluate and control the action of intelligence services, blogs such as Netzpolitik.org fulfill a crucial role in holding intelligence services to account.”

We welcome the decision by the German Justice Minister Heiko Maas to suspend the investigation and to terminate the federal prosecutor that launched it.

Our full solidarity is with Markus and Andre. We call on an end to the investigation against them and their sources. We also call on the German government to heed the Necessary and Proportionate principles on the application of human rights to communication surveillance, which specify that “states should be transparent about the use and scope of Communications Surveillance laws, regulations, activities, powers, or authorities.”

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