April 23, 2024

Press Freedom


Germany January 19, 2006

H.E. Angela Merkel
Federal Chancellor
10557 Berlin
Federal Republic of Germany

Your Excellency:

The Overseas Press Club of America, which has been monitoring freedom-of-the-press issues around the world for more than sixty six years, is concerned about the status of the case filed last year against the magazine, Cicero and its reporter, Bruno Schirra.

Under Germany ‘s previous government, Cicero and Schirra were accused of “betraying state secrets” under the German penal code. Both the offices of Cicero and Mr. Schirra’s home were raided by police. These actions apparently stemmed from an article by Mr. Schirra in the April edition of Cicero — drawing on dossiers of the Federal Criminal Police Office, as well as on Western and Jordanian intelligence agencies. The article reported the goals of Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, whose Al Tawhid organization is typically described as an “affiliate” of Al Qaeda.

From our vantage point in the United States , the Cicero case has similarities to the New York Times /Judith Miller case. In both instances, journalists published confidential material provided by government sources. It was senior government officials who breached security, not journalists. But instead of going after the talkative officials, prosecutors apparently decided to shoot the messengers…the journalists who were doing a proper job of informing the public.

We would like to know if the new German government intends to continue this prosecution. We strongly believe that to do so would be a violation of the rights of a free press, and would have a chilling effect on the necessary work of our German colleagues.

Respectfully yours,
Jeremy Main
Kevin McDermott
Freedom of the Press Committee



Wolfgang Ischinger

Ambassador of Germany to the U.S.A.

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
4645 Reservoir Road, NW
Washington , DC 20007
Fax: (202) 298-4249


Ambassador Gunter Pleuger

Permanent Representative

Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany

to the United Nations

871 United Nations Plaza

New York , NY 10017

Fax: (212) 940-0402


William R. Timken, Jr.

U.S. Ambassador to Germany

Embassy of the United States of America – Germany

PSC 120, Box 1000

APO AE 09265

Fax: (011.49.30) 8305-1215