European Federation of Journalists

Germany: WDR-journalist receives death threat after criticizing right-wing party AfD

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and its German members “Deutscher Journalisten Verband” (DJV) and “Deutsche Journalistinnen- und Journalisten-Union in ver.di” expressed its solidarity with the German journalist Georg Restle, who became the target of online harassment culminating in death threat received by letter. The journalist had critically commented on the right wing party “Alternative für Deutschland” (AfD). Following the letter coming from “the right wing extremist scene”, his employer, the public service broadcaster “Westdeutscher Rundfunk” (WDR) has now filed a criminal complaint.

On 11 July, Restle had described the AfD as the “parliamentary arm of a right-wing extremist movement” in a commentary at the news broadcast “Tagesthemen”. He was referring to the “Identitäre Bewegung”, an organisation recently classified as a “right-wing extremist movement” by the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution. In the statement, he demands the AfD to be labeled as right-wing extremist, too. As a reason, he named “personal, structural and ideological interdependencies” between Identitäre Bewegung and the AfD.

Restle is the chief editor of the investigative magazine “Monitor”, dealing – among other topics – with right wing extremism. As a reaction to the commentary, he faced harsh criticisms on social media and from the AfD itself. Party leader Jörg Meuthen called Restle an “enemy of democracy” and freedom of expression during a speech in Cottbus.

“We welcome the criminal complaint of the WDR related to the death threats against our colleague Georg Restle. Threats against and attacks on journalists are unacceptable. All those who are committed to our democracy are called upon to support us in defending freedom of the press”, stated the dju in ver.di. Frank Stach, chairman of the DJV’s regional group North Rhine-Westphalia also condemned a “disgusting death threat against the journalist Georg Restle and stand by his side.”

Photo Credit: WDR Logo