• Germany edition
 
Minister hits turbulence over flying carpet affair
Photo: Development Minster Dirk Niebel talks with two locals. DPA

Minister hits turbulence over flying carpet affair

Published: 08 Jun 2012 10:16 GMT+02:00
Updated: 08 Jun 2012 10:16 GMT+02:00

Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Dirk Niebel is now under pressure to explain why he pulled strings to get his Afghan carpet flown to Germany for nothing – on a plane belonging to Germany's foreign intelligence agency (BND).

“This is not a surprise” said speaker of the Social Democrat (SPD) fraction in the Bundestag Thomas Oppmann. He added that Niebel treated his ministry like a “self-service shop for himself and his party”, the deeply unpopular junior coalition partner the Federal Democratic Party (FDP).

“The FDP has a tradition of tax evasion,” he told news magazine Der Spiegel on Thursday and added that he was waiting for Niebel to explain himself.

Niebel was on an official visit to Afghanistan in March when the €1,100 rug caught his eye – but because it weighed 30 kilos and he had other luggage, he could not take it with him on his commercial flight.

So he pulled a “personal favour” from Gerhard Schindler, head of Germany’s equivalent of MI6, who was happy to help. They arranged a drop at the German embassy in Kabul, where it was picked up by a secret agent, and flown home on a spy plane.

Not only did this mean he did not have to wait for his carpet, Niebel got it transported to Germany for nothing – and once there, it was whisked past customs, the magazine said. The plane landed at the non-commercial area of Berlin’s Schönefeld airport, and a driver collected the carpet and took it to Niebel – without declaring the import, Niebel’s ministry admitted.

“I had planned on picking it and taking it back as luggage up on my next trip to Afghanistan,” the minister said in a statement. “That, like how it was actually delivered, would not have cost extra.”

He has since informed customs officials of the carpet and applied to pay whatever is due.

The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

12:17 June 8, 2012 by lucksi
If I have additional luggage on my commercial flights, I can pay for them. I bet the 150 Euro or so fee put him off.

Also, a guy named Schindler as the head of Germany's version of the MI6? That's just ...ummm....shifty. I'd have my name changed.
12:55 June 8, 2012 by bobmarchiano
So what it is no big deal you need to have some perks with the job
13:49 June 8, 2012 by Leo Strauss
Outbound BND flight.

I bet it hurt to leave that 30 kgs of pure heroin on the runway in Kabul. :(
15:06 June 8, 2012 by Russell E. Willis
1 Peter 2:13, 14 ( KJV; 1611 EDITION ) read as follows:

"Submit your selues to euery ordinance of man for the Lordes sake, whether it be to the King, as supreme, or vnto gouernours, as vnto them that are sent by him, for the punishment of euil doers, and for the praise of them that doe well."

Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Dirk Niebel finally did submit himself to the ordinances of man regarding the transport of his Afghan carpet, but only after now being under pressure to explain why he did what he did.

Sincerely in Christ,

Russell E. Willis

P.S. - Please read Proverbs 23:23.
15:22 June 8, 2012 by twisted
No big deal....American Members of Congress do this sort of thing all of the time. What do you think all those "fact finding" trips are for? Shopping and sight seeing primarily with a bit of business thrown in just to keep it official. And I speak from real knowledge.
15:33 June 8, 2012 by finanzdoktor
Geez, and here I had to pay extra for two bags (would have been four, if my family and I hadn't merged two and carried one onto the plane), when United Airlines wouldn't honor its Star Alliance partner's, Asiana Airlines, international travel baggage allowance.

I should have become a German Interior Minister, then I could have had the entire trip paid for by taxpayers. Definitely, either in the wrong line of work, or just not that arrogant.
18:19 June 8, 2012 by raandy
The SPD says the FDP is renowned for not paying taxes, sounds very political to me.

I am surprised that this is news worthy.
19:12 June 8, 2012 by Joshontour
If a product is manufactured in another country, bought in that country and then brought to Germany; what claim does Germany have on taxing that. The money he earned to buy the rug was already taxed.
20:29 June 8, 2012 by nedmesis
A photo of the carpet would have been nice.
21:58 June 8, 2012 by puisoh
@Joshontour .. there are things called VAT and import duty.

@ nedmesis .. ditto.
Today's headlines
German firms top EU lobbying list
Siemens was the highest ranked German company when it came to spending on EU lobbying, according to the register. Photo: DPA

German firms top EU lobbying list

Germany companies are among the biggest spenders when it comes to EU lobbying to influence decision makers in Brussels. There are more German lobbying organizations registered than from any other country in Europe but Belgium. READ  

City starts beer for alcoholics project
Photo: DPA

City starts beer for alcoholics project

A city in western Germany will start a controversial project on Wednesday to employ alcohol and drug addicts to clean the streets in return for beer, tobacco, food and small amounts of cash. READ  

Fault forces Germany to cut Eurofighters
A German Eurofighter. Photo: DPA

Fault forces Germany to cut Eurofighters

A manufacturing fault has been discovered in the troubled Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes, Germany's defence ministry said on Tuesday, announcing it was suspending deliveries of the sophisticated jets. READ  

Oettinger blames celebs for nude photo hack
Oettinger (l) appeared to misunderstand how the internet works in his comments about the photo hack which has reportedly affected celebrities including Amber Heard (r). Photo: DPA/EPA

Oettinger blames celebs for nude photo hack

German newspapers on Tuesday ridiculed incoming EU Digital Commissioner Günther Oettinger after he blamed "stupid" celebrities for having their private nude pictures hacked and spread online. READ  

Shots fired as ‘seniors’ rob Berlin security van
Police outside the Apple Store in Berlin where a security van was robbed. Photo: DPA

Shots fired as ‘seniors’ rob Berlin security van

A gang disguised as pensioners opened fire on a Berlin security van on Monday night, escaping with cash before setting their getaway car on fire. It is the second such attack in ten days. READ  

Pickpocket fools minister at anti-crime event
Ralf Jäger in front of a sign reading "eyes open and pockets closed" at the pickpocketing awareness event. Photo: DPA

Pickpocket fools minister at anti-crime event

North Rhine-Westphalia's interior minister Ralf Jäger was pickpocketed by a magician at a press conference he called on Monday to launch a campaign against pickpocketing. READ  

Berlin heart centre fiddled transplant list
Photo: DPA

Berlin heart centre fiddled transplant list

A probe into German transplant centres sparked by an organ donor scandal has revealed 14 cases of a doctor fiddling medical records at one of Germany’s leading heart centres. READ  

Lufthansa strike hits 20,000 passengers
A stranded group of travellers from Vancouver, Canada, sit and wait at Frankfurt Airport on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Lufthansa strike hits 20,000 passengers

UPDATE: The fourth pilots’ strike in recent weeks hit Germany’s biggest airport on Tuesday morning, with long-haul Lufthansa flights grounded at Frankfurt. Around 20,000 passengers have been affected. READ  

View from Germany
'Criminals are at work in refugee homes'
Photo: DPA/Police

'Criminals are at work in refugee homes'

A photo appearing to show a refugee being abused at a home for asylum seekers has caused outrage in Germany. The photo has been compared to those from Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. Police are now investigating six cases of abuse at three different centres. READ  

Police suspect neo-Nazis of Reichstag attack
An investigator gives a sniffer dog the scent of an object found at the scene. Photo: DPA

Police suspect neo-Nazis of Reichstag attack

Investigators believe a Molotov cocktail thrown at the Reichstag building in Berlin early on Monday morning was the work of a far-right group, a police spokeswoman said on Tuesday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Immigrants have created how many German jobs?
Photo: DPA
Munich
Brit raped at Oktoberfest while going to toilet
Photo: DPA
National
Revealed: Germany's military feet of clay
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Marks and Spencer: Win €300 toward your new autumn wardrobe
Photo: Shutterstock
Society
Quiz: How good is your German?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Thousands take to Berlin's streets for marathon
Photo: DPA
Society
'Incest should be legal,' says ethics board
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten noises that sound very different in German
Photo: DPA
Society
QUIZ: Can you pass the German citizenship test?
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten German words you'll never want to hear again
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,165
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd