Policeman fined after revealing confidential information on right-wing extremists

A police officer in the state of Hesse received a fine and will face further disciplinary proceedings after being found to have passed confidential police information to a friend with links to right-wing extremists.

Policeman fined after revealing confidential information on right-wing extremists
Photo: DPA

The officer told the district court Dieburg in southern Hesse that he had revealed official secrets to his ex-girlfriend. He split from the woman in 2015 after a six-month relationship. 

She had approached him around three years ago for information on two men who belong to Germany’s neo-Nazi scene, one of whom was named in court as her current partner. 

Spiegel Online reported that the men had links to the radical extremist group ‘Aryans’ which has been investigated by the German attorney general as being a terrorist organization. 

The policeman was fined €6750 and may face further sanctions on an internal basis from police authorities, while the woman was fined €1875. The court said that both should have been aware that what they were engaging in was a crime. 

As yet, the nature of the information that was released is unclear – as was the nature of the woman’s request. The policeman denied that he had right-wing ties or supported any form of right-wing ideology. 

The court heard that the policeman had been going through a difficult time in 2016 when the request was made, due primarily to his father’s cancer diagnosis. 

He said that he was unable to think clearly at the time that the request was made, adding that he was sure that he did not release critical information or data to the woman. 

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German police under fire for using tracing app to find witnesses

German police drew criticism Tuesday for using an app to trace contacts from bars and restaurants in the fight against the pandemic as part of an investigation.

A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant.
A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

The case stemming from November last year began after the fatal fall of a man while leaving a restaurant in the western city of Mainz.

Police seeking possible witnesses made use of data from an app known as Luca, which was designed for patrons to register time spent in restaurants and taverns to track the possible spread of coronavirus.

Luca records the length of time spent at an establishment along with the patron’s full name, address and telephone number – all subject to Germany’s strict data protection laws.

However the police and local prosecutors in the case in Mainz successfully appealed to the municipal health authorities to gain access to information about 21 people who visited the restaurant at the same time as the man who died.

After an outcry, prosecutors apologised to the people involved and the local data protection authority has opened an inquiry into the affair.

“We condemn the abuse of Luca data collected to protect against infections,” said the company that developed the Luca app, culture4life, in a statement.

It added that it had received frequent requests for its data from the authorities which it routinely rejected.

Konstantin von Notz, a senior politician from the Greens, junior partners in the federal coalition, warned that abuse of the app could undermine public trust.

“We must not allow faith in digital apps, which are an important tool in the fight against Covid-19, to disappear,” he told Tuesday’s edition of Handelsblatt business daily.