Anna on Fri, 31 Aug 2007 13:27:44 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> News from Berlin on the case against Andrej Holm


great news: The Federal Court of Justice has decided yesterday not to
decide this week about the prosecutors complaint against the temporary
release from custody. Instead the judges seem to have realised that a
much more important issue is at stake: the question whether section
129a, the terrorism law, applies at all. Not only for Andrej's case
(and the other 6 concerned), but it is thinkable that this is going to
turn into a fundamental decision on the definition of 'terrorism' and
whether arson without hurting human beings can be 'terrorist'.

This is a great step for humanity (or may be) and at the same time
will be a very scary time for our family, and friends.

I'm sending you some English language material: an article from this
week's Der Spiegel (Germany's most influential weekly magazine), a
press release commenting on yesterday's court decision, a link to two
shows on National Public Radio and Free Speech Radio Network. There's
more at the English language section of

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Berlin Struggles to Define 'Terror'

By Caroline Schmidt and Dietmar Hipp

Just what who is a terrorist? It is a question Germany is wrestling
with after a Berlin sociology professor was imprisoned for terrorism
after allegedly helping leftists torch cars.

Forty-year-old Berlin lawyer Christina Clemm was just 10 during
the so-called German Autumn of 1977: Her recollections of the
historic showdown between the German state and its enemies, the
left-wing underground organization known as the Red Army Faction or
"Baader-Meinhof Gang," are vague. But when Clemm visited her client,
36-year-old Andrej H., in Berlin's Moabit prison early last week,
the atmosphere there was reminiscent of those dark years of leftist

The lawyer was only allowed to shake her client's hand in the presence
of a prison guard. A plate of bullet-proof glass an inch thick
separated them during their conversation. In addition, Clemm's mail
was intercepted. Andrej H. told her he was being held in solitary
confinement 23 hours a day. He was only allowed out for exercise
for one hour a day with two other prisoners. He is being held under
paragraph 129a of German criminal law -- the paragraph that deals with

And yet the academic -- who holds a Ph.D. in sociology, lectures at
Humboldt University in Berlin and has three children -- is not even
a prime suspect in the arson investigation that led to his arrest,
according to the warrant. The federal prosecutor's office believes
H. and an academic from Leipzig are the intellectual leaders of the
left-wing "militante gruppe" (mg), a left-wing faction which has
allegedly been responsible for about 25 arson attacks since 2001.
Three other men from Berlin have also been detained. They were seen
trying to place incendiary devices underneath trucks belonging to the
German military.

How Far Can the State Go?

The move by the investigators to use all severity in dealing with such
a case is very likely a precedent -- and seems destined to trigger
a debate as to the appropriateness of the approach. The central
questions are clear: In the age of bloody suicide attacks, what
constitutes terrorism? And: How far can the state go?

More than 3,000 supporters, including academics from Germany and
the United States, have signed a letter of protest "Against the
Criminalization of Critical Science." Last week, renowned US
sociologists Saskia Sassen and Richard Sennett published an article
called "Guantánamo in Germany" in the British Guardian, in which they
write: "We are struck by the gray zones of fragile civil liberties and
confused state power that this case reveals."

The German Green Party has already said that Minister of Justice
Brigitte Zypries has some explaining to do and has promised to pursue
the issue in Germany's parliament, the Bundestag. Green Party Floor
Leader Renate Künast has criticized the investigation as "lacking a
legal basis." Former Bundestag Vice President Burkhard Hirsch, of the
liberal Free Democrats, spoke of an inappropriate attempt to turn
small militant groups into terrorists. "Torching a car is no small
offense," was the brusque retort of Dieter Wiefelspütz, the domestic
policy spokesman for the Social Democrats. One could very well speak
of terrorism in such a case, Wiefelspütz added.

The bitter debate comes four years after a 2003 legal reform pushed
through by the government of then Chancellor Gerhard Schröder which
introduced new guidelines for the prosecution of terrorist acts.
Coming not long after the al-Qaida attacks in the US, the reform
took aim at international terrorist organizations -- and made the
prosecution of those groups much easier. At the same time, Schröder's
SPD and his coalition partners the Greens wanted to limit the
application of terror laws -- originally passed to deal with Red Army
Faction attacks in the 1970s -- domestically. There were also European
Union guidelines to take into consideration.

Arson as Terror

Ever since, arson has only been punishable as terrorism when carried
out with the intention of "significantly intimidating the population"
or "eliminating or seriously damaging the foundations of a state or
an international organization." Moreover, attacks need to be capable
of causing "considerable" damage to the state. Jerzy Montag, one of
the Green Party's legal experts, praised the new law at the time by
pointing out that it makes it impossible to prosecute "every little
thing" as a case of terrorism.

But how do you know when a state is severely damaged? Is every
politically motivated crime equal to terrorism, or should the case of
Andrej H. be approached solely as attempted arson?

A lack of case law means that an authoritative answer to these
questions does not yet exist. The only relevant court decision was
handed down by the Federal Court of Justice in its decision that the
"pinprick tactic" of right-wing arsonists can be defined as terrorism
-- because right-wing arsons are carried out with the intention of
driving "all foreigners" out of the region. Cologne-based professor
Claus Kress believes that terrorism charges could be leveled against
Andrej H. and the other suspects as long as "more than only marginal
elements of the German military were destroyed." But, he adds, setting
fire to single vehicles is not enough.

Criminal law professor Thomas Weigend likewise finds fault with a
broad application of terror laws. In a letter to former head federal
prosecutor Kay Nehm, he found fault with the "excessive reach" of the
2003 law and called for a restrictive interpretation. An attack, he
wrote, should be classified as terrorist only when "the state in its
entirety suffers damage," as in the case of "large-scale attacks on
the energy supply," for example. Exceptions should be made only for
extreme violence against humans.

Unusually Sloppy

Even justices at the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, Germany's
highest appellate court, take this view. "Only limited effects with
no broader impact are not sufficient, according to the letter of the
law," two magistrates at the Federal Court of Justice note. According
to that interpretation, the militante gruppe Andrej H. is accused
of leading wouldn't be a terrorist organization at all. Even if the
left-wing radicals have declared war on the state and have set fire
to police cars, job centers and a supermarket, they have taken care
not to hurt anybody. Contrary to the Red Army Faction, explosives or
firearms are not part of their weapons arsenal.

But what seems like an academic quibble is vital for the future of the
investigation into Andrej H's case. Only if the case is classified
as terrorism does it become part of Federal Prosecutor Monika Harms'
portfolio -- and only then can investigators make use of the full
range of surveillance measures. Most importantly, it is only then that
alleged behind-the-scenes conspirators can be prosecuted even when
they have not contributed to specific crimes in a tangible way -- as
with Andrej H. Investigators tapped his phone, traced his movements
by following his mobile phone signal, read his e-mails and maintained
video surveillance on both entrances to his house for almost a year.

If the arrest warrant issued by the Federal Court of Justice is
to be believed, these measures yielded little: Policemen saw the
avowed G-8 critic meet with one of the alleged arsonists in a café in
February and April of this year. The meetings are said to have been
arranged in secret through the e-mail account ""
The investigators believe H. is the intellectual mastermind behind
the group because his dissertation on urban renewal features the
word "gentrification," which also appears in the communiqués of the
"militante gruppe."

Last week, Ulrich Hebenstreit, the judge overseeing Andrej H's
detention, carefully distanced himself from the initial accusations
and temporarily rescinded the unusually sloppy arrest warrant against
Andrej H. Hebenstreit argued that H. continues to be "strongly
suspected of having committed an offense," but that sufficient
evidence "regarding direct participation in one or more attacks by the
'militante gruppe' is not yet extant."


Professor's Research Results in Terrorism Charges

All Things Considered, August 21, 2007 · Prominent German academic
Andrej Holm was arrested three weeks ago on terrorism charges.
According to the arrest warrant, Professor Holm was linked to a
militant group because of his research into "gentrification."

Robert Siegel talks with Kate Connolly, Berlin correspondent for The
Guardian newspaper.

[If you have trouble opening the file: I can send it to you and it
will soon also be here:]



Critics Say Germany's Anti-Terrorism Laws Target Leftist Intellectuals

German sociologist Andrej Holm, was released on bail late yesterday,
after spending 3 weeks in jail on suspicion of being a member of
a terrorist organization. Holm was arrested under section 129a of
Germany's anti-terrorist legislation, because of his association with
3 other men who were arrested after allegedly attempting to set fire
to a military vehicle. The German Federal Police suspect that all
these people are members of a terrorist organisation known as the
Militant Group - and have been holding them in pre-trial detention
under section 129a of the German Anti-Terrorism Law. Cinnamon Nippard
has more from Berlin.


Coalition for the Immediate End to the §129a Proceedings
c/o Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte e.V.
Greifswalder Strasse 4
D-10405 Berlin

Berlin, 30th August 2007

Press Release

Sociologist Remains Free. Federal Prosecution postpones the decision to
revoke temporary release

Yesterday afternoon the Third Criminal Division of the Federal Court
of Justice declared that the decision over the appeal against Andrej
H.'s temporary release from custody has been postponed until October.
According to the judge there are outstanding legal questions as to
whether the anti-terrorist legislation, the "§129a", can even be
applied to this case at all. The lawyers acting on behalf of Florian
L., Oliver R. and Axel H. believe that this discussion over the
premises of the charges will also have an effect on their clients'

"The Federal Prosecution is completely lost over its construction of a
terrorist organisation", Volker Eick, a spokesperson for the Coalition
for the Immediate End to the 129a Proceedings, said. "The accusation
of terrorism against the three people arrested in Brandenburg is based
upon two meetings with Andrej H. Whatever is decided, we demand the
immediate release of Oliver, Florian and Axel", Eick added.

For Andrej H. the judge's decision means he will remain out of custody
until the beginning of October. "We are of the opinion that this will
continue to be the case because by October the claim that he may
abscond will be have been clearly shown to be false", Eick stated.

Further information in English:

Telephone number:

Christina Clemm
Tel.: +49-30-25293336


Bitte benutzt meinen neuen GPG-Schluessel /
please use my new GPG key:

D8CA 5A27 CF02 D93E 8713 BB16 DF54 007A 8BD0 27FC

Please send me yours again!
Bitte schickt mir Eure Schluessel nochmal!

Protect your privacy / mehr Datenschutz:

Das alles verhindert nicht, dass verschiedene Sicherheitsorgane des
Landes mitlesen, ich bitte also von Zusendungen mit den Stichworten
'Gentrifizierung' oder 'Inhalt der Schwarzen Tuete' abzusehen.

An die Damen und Herren von den Sicherheitsorganen: Letzteres war *Ironie*.

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