On the ground | Information democracy | Privacy and data protection | Freedom of expression online | Surveillance and data retention

Germany: Constitutional complaint against intelligence agency BND

By Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte (guest author) · February 7, 2018

EDRi observer Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte (GFF) has filed a constitutional complaint against surveillance by Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND).

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A new law that the German Parliament passed in October 2016 allows the BND to spy on foreign journalists. This destroys trust between journalists and their sources precisely in places where investigative journalism is particularly difficult. Therefore, a number of prominent international journalists and human rights activists have filed a lawsuit against the BND law before the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe. They are supported by an alliance of journalists’ associations and NGOs.

The plaintiffs are mainly investigative journalists from various countries, including many renowned journalists, such as the winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize 2017 Khadija Ismayilova from Azerbaijan, Raúl Olmos from Mexico, Blaž Zgaga from Slovenia, and Richard Norton-Taylor from Great Britain. The plaintiffs also include the German human rights lawyer Michael Mörth, who is working in Guatemala, and the French human rights organisation Reporters Sans Frontières.

The NGOs supporting the complaint include EDRi observers Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte (GFF) and the German Reporters without Borders (ROG), as well as the German Journalists’ Union, the German Federation of Journalists (DJV) and the journalists’ network n-ost, an association of investigative journalists netzwerk recherche (nr). These organisations involved have taken the initiative and are supporting the plaintiffs by lodging a constitutional complaint and meeting the legal costs.

No Trust, No News – We have filed a lawsuit against the BND law

GFF launches its strategic litigation for civil rights (16.11.2016)

(Contribution by Malte Spitz, EDRi observer Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte, Germany)