In December 2016 magazine Stern published an unbelievable article on their news blog stern.de.
We learnt that a seven-year old girl, called Bana Alabed, was tweeting from Aleppo in the midst of the fights. It was at a time when German media told their audiences how educated all the refugees are that come to us and that we are to expect medical doctors and engineers that would exactly meet the needs for high-qualification jobs in our society. In this atmosphere Stern decided to blow it and introduced that English-writing Arab child of seven years to German-speakers. (Her account description reads today ‘managed by mom’ who apparently can’t just write for herself.)
When a blogger Jens Bernert called the story ‘fake news’, Stern sued him for libel. While in America libel means writing something about somebody that is factually untrue, German sentiments include judgements they don’t like.
In July a court issued a restraining order against Bernert to take down the entry and not to do it again. If Bernert defies the order, he will have to pay a fine of up to a quarter of a million Euro.
The court specified that Stern may not be called a ‘fake news producer’ and may not be alleged to ‘produce fake news for the purpose of propaganda’. It is also forbidden to say Stern peddles a ‘story that is an obvious lie’ and separately to say that Stern ‘lies’.
Blogger Jens Bernert was supposed to proof to the court the intent behind the obvious lie. This, however, would require mind-reading technology not available to this date. The judge explicitely said again and again that neither truth, state of science, journalistic responsibility, nor ‘common sense’ play any role in this.
Bernert’s lawyer Markus Kompa says, ‘It is absurd that a publisher that relies on the freedom of the press produces a legal precedent against it.’ He finds it equally absurd that obvious war propaganda can be published without consequences while a blogger who calls out an author or company for doing so has to proof the intention of lying.
Both Bernert and his lawyer also criticise that the court communicated with Stern from the very beginning, but did not give a hearing to the accused blogger until the third day of the trial. Because Bernert was not informed about the first two days he also could not counter their arguments well-prepared.
Lawyer Markus Kompa vows to assist his client through the legal battles ahead. They expect a long, tiresome fight through all court circuits necessary. A fund was set up for private donations.
source de.sputniknews (a German-speaking leg of the Russian state media).