Charges Against 'Interim' Magazine Have Been Dropped

German authorities have suffered an embarrassing failure in their attempts to criminalize the Berlin autonomist periodical 'Interim'. All charges against 14 individuals targeted in a series of highly-publicized raids in Berlin last year have been dropped. It seems the state's intelligence agency could not find anything useful in the massive amounts of confiscated materials. Last June, 500 police raided a total of nine houses and workplaces in Berlin, looking for the alleged editors of Interim magazine. During the six-hour house searches - the biggest in the city in the post-war era - police confiscated 16 computers, 2,178 floppy disks, as well as posters featuring Berlin's right-wing Interior Minister Jorg Schonbohm, and some other printed matter. No criminal materials were found, it has now been learned. Lawyers for the accused, who have since been able to look at police files on the case, found out that Berlin's state intelligence agency had been going after the Interim since as early as 1989. Their activities increased in May 1996 when they thought that they had discovered the printing shop where the magazine was produced. State agents rented an apartment with a view of the location and began more surveillance. As of August 1998, "technical" means of observation - perhaps audio or video bugs - were employed. In November 1996, police transported an entire garbage container to police headquarters after "suspicious persons" threw some printed matter into it. Police were unable to get any fingerprints off the materials. But police continued their observations, compiling volumes of notes. One lawyer characterized the police's activities as "useless data collection" whose only aim was to "create a disturbance in the leftist scene". German federal authorities in Karlsruhe, who supervised the Berlin operations, refused to comment to the media after the charges against the Interim were dropped.

(written from media accounts, February 1998)

back to mainpage