Germany: Alleged police informant spies on social rights coalitions
On 8 November, an informant was exposed in the Hamburg activist scene. He had infiltrated several politically active groups and taken part in demonstrations, actions and group meetings. The student unions of the Hamburg universities, to which many of the active groups are linked, are considering legal measures on grounds of the infiltration compromising a violation of several constitutional rights. However, neither the police nor the local government have commented on the allegations, leaving it open as to whether 'Christian Trott', who is known to have worked as a police officer until one year ago (his time of appearance in the groups), was deployed by the regional police crime authority (Landeskriminalamt) or the internal security service (Verfassungsschutz). A Green Party member has lodged a question in the Hamburg Senate to clarify the background to the alleged spying.
'Christian Trott', whose real name turned out to be Kristian K., had entered several politically active groups and circles one year ago, claiming he was 22 years old and giving varying information about his job and housing situation to different people. He was particularly interested in groups that are active against Germany's policy drive to undermine social security provisions, implemented through the so-called Hartz regulations. On 8 November, at an action against the welfare organisation Arbeiterwohlfahrt, which collaborates with the government's policies by offering so-called 1 Euro jobs (forcing those on benefits to take any low-paid job in threat of losing the right to social security), Kristian was recognised by a former schoolmate. She identified him and informed the groups that he had joined the police after his A-levels. Kristian vanished after seeing his former acquaintance at the action. On further research by the groups, other witnesses said that to their knowledge he was still in the police at least one year ago, which is when he appeared on the political scene in Hamburg.
Amongst others, the concerned groups are the "Hamburg-umsonst Kampagne" (Hamburg-for-free campaign), which carries out symbolic actions against the increasing prices of public services and the current dismantling of Germany's social security system (the above mentioned Hartz reforms), the radical trade union plenary Freie Arbeiter und Arbeiterinnen Union, the "Anti-Hartz-Group", which also counts trade union members of the GEW (Education and Science) and Verdi (different branches), and lately Kristian also attempted to enter the group "Attac-AG Sozialer Ungehorsam" (Attac working group 'social disobedience') and tried to become active in the student union and move into political living groups.
It is notable that the alleged informant targeted social pressure groups whose main aims are to discuss and highlight the impoverishing effect of the government's current anti-social security measures, which particularly target the unemployed and low-pay sector workers. Hence the strong engagement of trade unions in the massive social protests that have taken place over the last year in Germany, with weekly nation-wide as well as regional demonstrations and several active coalitions. Bela Rogalla, student union spokesman of Hamburg university, particularly criticizes the fact that if the allegations prove to hold, the state is in fact spying on civil protest groups and students. Apart from violating the right to privacy, this would be in clear violation of the guidelines on secret police informants which are laid down in the Hamburg regional police regulation Gesetz über die Datenverarbeitung der Polizei (Law on Data Collection on Behalf of the Police). The regulation details that the use of secret informants is only allowed if
- their deployment is "necessary for the defence of an immediate danger to a person's welfare, life or freedom",
- "existing facts justify the suspicion that there is an intent to commit significant criminal acts in the form of organised crime and that the deployment is necessary for the preventative fight against these criminal acts".
- Finally, the use of secret service informant only takes place on order of the chief of police and necessitates the authorisation of the public prosecution.
Further, the press release of the student union claims that the use of secret informants violates articles 2 and 4 of the German Constitution which restrict the state's activities and give citizen's the right to defend themselves against state activities respectively. The secret nature of the operation both prevents transparency and control of the state's activity and the possibility for citizens to defend themselves against unlawful state actions.
Udo Nagel, the chief of police in charge at the time in question is currently Hamburg's Senator for the Interior. Nagel (independent) and ordered the deportation of the Hamburg 9/11 suspects despite the fact that they were (or are expected to be, as one suspect is still awaiting the sentence) acquitted of all charges. Nagel is at the forefront of promoting the deportation of terrorist suspects without allegations having to be tested in court (see Statewatch Bulletin volume 14 no's 3 & 4).
The student union and the concerned groups are demanding from the Hamburg Senate to make a public statement on the allegations and to inform those concerned about the operation and the data collected on them. They also demand from the elected city council to fulfil its parliamentary control function over the executive and clarify the case.
On 19 November, Antje Möller from the Hamburg Green Party (GAL) lodged a written question to the regional government asking the Senate if it uses secret informants and if "Christian Trott" was one and if so for which institution he was active, what the concrete suspicion was that justified his deployment and which criminal act was (to be) prevented, if the internal secret service is involved, if any criminal prosecutions against those spied on have been initiated and if the right to data protection of those concerned was respected, amongst others.
1. Green Party questions to the regional parliament: http://www.gal-fraktion.de/cms/default/dok/49/49339.kleine_anfrage_der_galfraktion_verdeckte.htm
2. Press release of student unions of the Hamburg University of Economics and Politics and the University of Hamburg 17.11.2004
3. http://www.de.indymedia.org/2004/11/99069.shtml (15.11.2004)
4. Mopo 19.11.2004
5. die Welt 18.11.2004
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