Sunday, 30 June 2013

Germany: Intelligence services do not have to release Eichmann info

This is a slight departure from my usual focus, but there is an Argentine connection.

German daily Bild, which is not exactly the first publication to spring to mind when you think of investigative journalism, has just lost a court case in which it attempted to force the German intelligence service (Bundesnachrichtendienst, BND) to release information pertaining to Adolf Eichmann. The paper wants to prove that Germany knew Eichmann was in hiding in Argentina in the early '50s. It had already reported this on the basis of a partial release of the documentation.

The federal administrative court in Leipzig ruled that the BND does not have to released the unredacted documents. The paper is considering taking the case to Germany's highest court (the Bundesverfassungsgericht) in Karlsruhe.

The BND stressed that the majority of the documentation is available and said that the redaction was to protect personal data and sensitive security information. Bild lawyer Christoph Partsch said that the paper believes that Germany is harmed by the withholding of the information, not by its publication. 

Andreas Nachama, director of the "Topographie des Terrors" foundation, criticised the ruling and suggested that the redacted information could be embarrassing for Germany, since Hans Globke, the head of the federal chancellery (Bundeskanzleramt) after WWII and thus ultimate head of the BND, was a known Nazi supporter. Dieter Graumann, Germany's leading Jewish representative, also expressed his incomprehension at the decision.

This is disappointing. It's hard to believe that there can be 60-year-old information in these documents which could harm Germany's interests. Germany usually, and for obvious reasons, strives to be open about this kind of thing, so this feels like a step backwards. Good on Bild for pursuing the issue and I hope we will see inside the full files at some point.

Germany can keep Eichmann records secret, court rules (Guardian)
Die geheimen Akten des Adolf Eichmann (N24)
BILD verklagt Bundesnachrichtendienst (Bild)
BND muss Eichmann-Akten nicht freigeben (Bild)
Alemania: la justicia rechazó abrir los archivos sobre la fuga de Eichmann a la Argentina (

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