Berlin – The Berlin police obstruct the media and restrict the freedom of the press. That says a lawyer who is committed against the corona restrictions. In these weeks, the Berlin Administrative Court wants to decide on a fundamental question: Can anyone who describes himself as a journalist be let through the barriers during demonstrations and large-scale operations?
The number of “real” and “fake” journalists has risen rapidly in recent years. More and more bloggers and Facebook activists are now claiming information from the police and demanding to be let through through barriers – whether during the evacuation of a left-wing radical housing project or during demonstrations against the Corona policy. Left-wing radicals take portraits of neo-Nazis with the press pass on their jackets, and leftists portray them in order to publish them on the Internet.
The police officers are shown press cards, some of which differ greatly in shape and come from a wide variety of exhibitors. Most press card holders are let through – but not all, such as Markus Haintz.
Markus Haintz is suing the Berlin administrative court
The Ulm lawyer and activist against the Corona policy streamed videos of the demonstrations against the Corona measures on August 28 in Berlin on his YouTube channel. Police held him on the bridge between the main train station and the government district. They did not accept the press card he showed. His work is not press work, they justified.
In his capacity as a lawyer, Haintz then demanded a legally binding declaration from the Berlin police that his freedom of the press and thus his activity as a journalist would be guaranteed in accordance with Article 5 of the Basic Law and that his authority’s note that he was not a journalist would be corrected. He also demanded an explanation that the measure against him was illegal because of the initial suspicion that the press pass was “false”.
The police refused to make such statements. Markus Haintz therefore filed a lawsuit with the administrative court, which is supposed to determine that Haintz is a journalist. As evidence, he sent, among other things, a link that shows him in an interview with Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazilian President. He also regularly writes columns for the weekly Democratic Resistance.
The Berlin police also want to take it down on it
A judicial clarification as to which ID is valid would also be right for the police leadership according to its own admission. Because in the past few years the number of people who actually or supposedly work as a journalist has risen sharply. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the police at the barriers to determine who is doing journalistic work or who is just an activist who has obtained a press pass.
“It is anything but easy to differentiate,” says police spokesman Thilo Cablitz. “We are guided by case law, publications and, last but not least, the standards of journalistic associations and the German Press Council. For us, comprehensible proof of journalistic activity is decisive. ”According to Cablitz, the so-called uniform federal press pass is“ the ideal case ”for the police. Otherwise, it may be evidence of activities, regular publications, a letter from the editorial team and compliance with journalistic guidelines such as the press code or corresponding professional ethical self-commitments. “A continuous live stream, which then also violates the rights of third parties who are filmed in an undifferentiated manner, does not justify any journalistic activity,” said Cablitz. He does not get involved in the process itself
But can the police be the institution that has to judge journalistic standards? “They just don’t want people who think differently to publish,” Haintz believes.
In 2013, the German Press Council and the Conference of Interior Ministers reached an agreement on the nationwide press card. It is only issued to full-time journalists and should therefore be reliable evidence of their journalistic professionalism, for example to government agencies. Six media associations issue it: the German Association of Journalists (DJV), the German Union of Journalists (dju in Verdi), the Association of German Sports Journalists (VDS) and the Freelens Photographers Association as well as the Federal Association of Digital Publishers and Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) and the Association of German Magazine Publishers (VDZ). Anyone who only works occasionally as a journalist does not get the “federal uniform”.
Many police officers do not even recognize the nationwide press ID
Journalist is not a protected job title. And so there are also dubious traders who sell press passes to everyone. They advertise with press discounts in stores and with slogans like: “Representatives of the press have an easier time in life because they are often given preferential treatment. Invitations to sporting events, shopping vouchers, free services, cheap cars, and travel for free. ”For a fee of 127 euros plus an annual fee of 36 euros, you can get this ID without having to provide proof of journalistic activity.
The design of the identity card of the alleged journalists’ association differs only marginally from the “national uniform”. Many Berlin riot police do not even recognize the characteristics of the genuine national identity card, as employees of this newspaper have repeatedly stated.
There are also other organizations that issue press cards, such as the Federal Association of Specialized Journalists, which also requires proof of work for membership. You also belong to Markus Haintz. The association represents the common interests of second-time journalists, including lawyers.
It is still unclear when the administrative court will give a verdict. A court spokesman said that a quick decision was sought.