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    A demonstrator holds up a placard which reads Rest in Peace freedom of press! during a rally to protest against a criminal complaint by the domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), over articles about it that appeared on the Netzpolitik.org blog, in Berlin, Germany, August 1, 2015

    Germany's Snowden Moment: Bloggers Face Treason Charges After Spy Expose

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    Representatives of the German Journalists' Association told Sputnik News that the treason charges facing journalists from the blog Netzpolitik represent a 'serious attack on press freedom.'

    The German Journalists' Association declared that the charge of treason leveled against bloggers Markus Beckedahl and Andre Meister represents a "serious attack on the freedom of the press," in an interview with Sputnik News' German language radio station.  

    "This is not treason in any way. It was not the intention of the journalists to harm the Federal Republic of Germany or its foreign policy interests," said Hendrik Zoerner, spokesman for the German Journalists' Association [DJV].

    At the end of July, bloggers Markus Beckedahl and Andre Meister, who run the blog Netzpolitik, received notice from the German attorney general that they are being investigated "on suspicion of treason," under Section 94 of the German Penal Code, which carries a minimum sentence of one year. 

    The case is the first time a journalist has been charged with treason since the 1962 Spiegel affair.

    The interview with representatives of the German Journalists' Association.

    The charges were filed as a result of the publication of two articles on their Netzpolitik blog about the activities of the German domestic intelligence service, one of which was published in English

    Their journalism revealed that the German intelligence service is investing millions of euros to extend its surveillance of internet users, including the creation up a new 'Extended Specialist Support Internet' department of 75 spies, whose job is to monitor online chat and communication on social networks such as Facebook to gather information about users.

    The aim of the journalists, says Zoerner, was rather to "report on the intelligence service and the new monitoring methods it employs, and thus educate the public."  

    Fellow journalist Eckart Spoo told Sputnik he also could see no grounds for the treason charge.

    "The work of the young journalists is very necessary. What the attorney general has done is a grave attack on the freedom of the press. That is dangerous, intimidating, and after previous scandals of this kind should not be allowed to happen."

    A petition protesting against the treason investigation against the journalists has gained more than 100,000 signatures.

    Journalists Markus Beckedahl and Andre Meister wrote on their blog that rather than witnesses to the criminal investigation, they are being treated as accomplices of the unnamed source who provided them with the information, and called the investigation "an attack on the freedom of the press." 

    "We do not dispute the right of the security services to protection of information. If they did not have this right, then the work of the intelligence services would turn into absurdity," explained Zoerner.  

    "However, it is necessary that the essential elements of intelligence service work are presented in a transparent way. It is evident that this is lacking in the intelligence service," said the DJV spokesman, who also expressed his doubts that the case will eventually reach a trial, due to the strength of German public opinion against the activities of the intelligence services, and in favor of the journalists.  

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    Tags:
    treason, blogger, blog, spy scandal, cyber spying, spying, German Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Germany
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