Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lutz Heilmann, The Left Member of Parliament, ex Stasi operative

Truly in line with the traditions of the former East German secret service, the Stasi, its ex-operative Lutz Heilmann (photo to the left) is resorting to censorship to prevent nasty information about his past from reaching the public eye. Heilmann today 'serves' as a member of parliament in the Left faction.

Censorship in the 21st century you might say? Not really. This posting here then is part of the process of keeping information flowing freely. Feel free to reproduce it and post it elsewhere. Thankfully there is little our ex-Stasi operative can do about it outside Germany!

Here's what happened. The German version of ( has/had an item on Heilmann that included unpleasant information about his past full-time service in the Stasi. The main point of criticism is not so much that he was a Stasi operative as that is true for very many people in Eastern Germany, but that he tried to hide that information when he ran for higher office. In fact, in fairness to Heilmann, he seems to have worked for the Stasi straight after high-school for about 5 years, in a department responsible for the safety of the East German leadership. This really isn't the problem probably, what is the problem is that instead of rectifying whatever objective errors there were in his wikipedia entry, using the usual means within wikipedia to do so, he chose not do so, and instead to bring down the whole site by way of going to court. Talking about throwing the baby out with the bathwater...

Heilmann is unhappy about information concerning his past that was uncovered by DER SPIEGEL. The magazine reports that Heilmann lied about his past by claiming that he served in the East German army from 1985 to 1990 when really he worked for the Stasi. This and other unpleasant tidbits about Heilmann have been put together in an entry in the German wikipedia version. Heilmann sued and in effect forced the German version of the wikipedia off-line. is currently offering its visitors a placeholder, informing them that unless it removes the offending item (about Heilmann) it has been ordered by a German court to stop the redirect to the US based servers that host Thankfully the German courts have no jurisdiction in the USA, and freedom of expression is taken a bit more seriously in that country (thank you First Amendment). It is here where the entry about Mr Heilmann is still available in its full glory.

Censorship in the 21st century... you got to be kidding Mr Heilmann.

In case you value freedom of expression, you might wish to consider donating to the German branch of wikipedia in order to support it in its legal battles with Mr Heilmann.

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