In 2022, Radio Dreyeckland linked the archive page of the banned association linksunten.indymedia in an article. Now the editor is on trial.

Dreyeckland Radio Studio

The Radio Dreyeckland editorial office without registering the police Photo: Andree Kaiser

The trial against Fabian Kienert begins today at the Karlsruhe regional court. The editor of the Freiburg alternative station Radio Dreyeckland (RDL) would have supported the continuation of a prohibited association via a simple Internet connection. An acquittal is likely.

In July 2022, Kienert published an article on the RDL website about the radical left-wing agitation platform, banned since 2017. linksunten.indymedia was. The text ends with the succinct sentence: “Linksunten.indymedia.org can be found on the Internet as an archive page.”

Due to this link, the Karlsruhe public prosecutor's office brought charges against Kienert in April 2023. Through the link you have the continuation of the prohibited association. linksunten.indymedia supports what is punishable according to article 85 of the Penal Code. Under the law, Kienert faces up to three years in prison or a fine.

Initially, the Karlsruhe regional court did not admit the charges in May 2023. It is not proven that linksunten.indymedia continue to exist and be active. Furthermore, Kienert only reported critically on the ban, but did not support the association criminally.

The facts are essentially uncontroversial.

But the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court (OLG) admitted the charges in June 2023. That linksunten.indymedia It continued despite the ban, as evidenced by the platform archive uploaded in 2020. Kienert's link to the archive was a support for the organization because it was not interested in information but in propaganda.

Kienert's trial is now underway. The reading of the accusation will take place for the first time on April 18. The regional court scheduled a total of nine days of hearings. This is surprising because the issue is not essentially controversial. Kienert had marked the article with his abbreviation FK. In January 2023 he also admitted to the police that he was the author and thus avoided a search in the RDL editorial office.

The process mainly raises legal questions. Can a simple link in a journalistic text be considered support for a banned organization? It is evident that press freedom is affected here. Where does information end and propaganda begin? The Higher Regional Court in Stuttgart stated that Kienert's text served as a request and an incentive to get involved. linksunten.indymedia to show solidarity.

Of course, there are no explicit formulations of this type in the text. RDL also criticized the fact that it should be possible to critically report on a club ban. However, the question of how you can support a banned platform that is no longer active is also controversial. The Higher Regional Court in Stuttgart considers the publication a “monument” with a lasting impact. The fact that the association is not currently active is mainly due to tactical reasons.

Approximately one week of work

The Karlsruhe Regional Court is not bound by the legal opinion of the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court. However, in the event of acquittal, the Karlsruhe public prosecutor's office, closely involved in this process, is likely to appeal and the Higher Regional Court in Stuttgart would once again be responsible.

But perhaps the issues discussed so far are not important at all. The Karlsruhe Regional Court has commissioned a report, the results of which could also impress the Public Prosecutor's Office and the Higher Regional Court.

York Yannakos, a computer science graduate from the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology, concluded that anyone who knows how to program something can publish an archive of articles until 2017. linksunten.indymedia were published. Not only the group itself can do this, but also a strange individual. You only had to start protecting around 830,000 text messages in time before the ban. It took approximately a week of work to assemble the file. Maintaining the file, which no longer changes in content, does not require much effort.

In the context of this report, the existence of the archive should not even be an indication of the continuity of the association. But if there is no evidence of the continuation of the association linksunten.indymedia exists, then it cannot be supported, especially not with a simple link. Therefore, an acquittal is evident.

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