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Leftist accuses official of blocking citizenship

Kristen Allen · 19 Mar 2010, 17:00

Published: 19 Mar 2010 17:00 GMT+01:00

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“If I hadn’t gone public in February I still wouldn’t have an answer,” the 31-year-old said, three days after the naturalisation office informed her she would receive her citizenship in April.

Menger-Hamilton, who works as the press spokesperson for the Left party’s Schleswig-Holstein parliamentary group, inadvertently became an enemy of the state when she applied for citizenship in Lower Saxony in October 2007.

Born in Germany to a Scottish father and an Italian mother, the resident of Laatzen, near Hannover, said that while she feels "completely European" and connected to all three countries, Germany is her home.

She said her main reason for wanting citizenship was to avoid unnecessary bureaucratic inconveniences when marrying a German man.

But it turned out that the naturalisation application she submitted in Hannover was only the beginning of her paperwork problems. Standard processing time for a request is between three and six months, but after nine months with no word, Menger-Hamilton began wondering what was holding things up.

“Only after several inquiries did an official reveal that someone from the domestic intelligence agency (Verfassungsschutz) had gotten involved in my case,” she told The Local.

When she went to the Hannover naturalisation office to view her files, Menger-Hamilton was stunned to find that the state Interior Ministry – led by conservative Christian Democrat Uwe Schünemann – had also given orders to block her application.

Documents show that the state interior minister himself was involved, she said.

Schünemann told news magazine Der Spiegel this week that he played no role in Menger-Hamilton’s case, saying he was only informed of its existence and blaming Hannover authorities for the delays.

But a statement from the Hannover district office on Wednesday pushed back, outlining a chronology of at least eight occasions on which Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, which reports to the Interior Ministry, intervened in the process.

“The Interior Ministry engaged in this procedure several times and made it clear that naturalisation should be denied,” Hannover’s district president Hauke Jagau said.

The documentation details statements from the Verfassungsschutz, which specifically cited Menger-Hamilton’s Left party affiliation as problematic because the organisation – though it is legal and the country’s fourth largest political party – was “against free democratic order.”

Story continues below…

“The political components of this situation are problematic,” Menger-Hamilton told The Local. “That a ministry can harass an individual for political ends is a scandal. There were no accusations; everything was construed with the aim of defaming the Left party.”

Despite media criticism, Schünemann said he will continue to monitor the Left party’s activities in the “defence of democracy,” Der Spiegel reported, citing a similar case in the state involving a young Syrian man.

Menger-Hamilton told The Local that while she may act against having a file with the domestic intelligence agency, she does not plan to take legal action against the Interior Ministry for blocking her application, and is simply relieved that the struggle is over.

“It’s hard for me to just spontaneously be happy about it,” she said. “It’s hard because it was such a difficult fight.”

Kristen Allen (kristen.allen@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:58 March 19, 2010 by michael4096
Beware 'press spokesmen' bearing conspiracy theories. Particularly, if it gives them page-inches on their favourite subjects.
18:15 March 19, 2010 by vonSchwerin
What about the Doppelpass issue? Does she get to keep her British passport and/or her Italian passport?
19:16 March 19, 2010 by khassi
though by not going to court she is denying a chance and an "obligatoin" regarding her political affiliation to defend democraxy and fight the unjustified discrimination against a legal party with wide support in germany!
21:05 March 19, 2010 by The-ex-pat
What about the Doppelpass issue? Does she get to keep her British passport and/or her Italian passport?

If she holds a UK passport, then yes she can. I took German citizenship and it was part of the "contract" that my UK passport remained current. The problems arise when as a German you apply for citizenship of another country. It is down to your parent country and it does not interest the UK in the slightest.
21:36 March 19, 2010 by Frenemy

You're not the first person I've heard say that the German gov't gives some people a rough time about multiple passports. It seems like whimsical bureaucracy to me. I got dual citizenship when I acquired US citizenship a few years ago. And when I submitted the forms to renew my German passport (with all the biometrics crap) earlier this year, I indicated that I also had US citizenship and it was processed completely without incident.

Maybe it differs from country to country (like who the German gov't has beef with at the time), i dunno...
08:11 March 20, 2010 by Fatz Lewinski
The most amazing thing is how open this is. Can you imagine the UK or US govt deliberately allowing their interference to be revealed in files?
18:33 March 20, 2010 by mixxim
The Scots ruined England (Gordon Brown & most union leaders) why let them infiltrate Germany. Please take Mandelson too...
17:30 March 21, 2010 by Deutschguy
I would let her stay just because she's kind of hot.
22:59 March 21, 2010 by Frenemy
meh...in a "Hackers" Angelina Jolie kinda way maybe....
12:45 March 22, 2010 by William Thirteen
but if you had to choose between her and gregor gysi as your linke partei bed partner?
13:26 March 23, 2010 by Joshontour
" 17:30 March 21, 2010 by Deutschguy

I would let her stay just because she's kind of hot. "

You should make an appointment with an Ophthalmologist as soon as possible!!!
00:32 March 29, 2010 by Wolf
So what's the hassle? My wife (English) applied for German citizenship and her background was screened thoroughly. Citizenship is denied to people who, previously, had served (I think) 30 days in prison or were fined the equivalent in euros. Therefore, I think there's no reason for Ms Mengen-Hamilton to complain. My wife had to wait for several months, too, until her German passport was isssued.
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