Political pressure on the media and a proposed law in Hamburg that would allow spying on journalists aroused many protests and made people aware of the need to defend press freedom.

The public TV station ZDF and the privately-owned RTL protested to the constitutional court on 12 April 2002 against what they said were restrictions on covering the trial of five Islamic militants accused of planning a bomb attack in Strasbourg at the end of 2000. The journalists wanted to film the court scene, including the defendants, for five minutes just before each hearing, but the Frankfurt court only allowed them to film the empty courtroom an hour and half before a hearing.

The secretary-general of the ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD), Frantz Münterfering, filed a complaint against the daily paper Bild on 2 August for "violation of data privacy." The paper had published the week before the names of federal MPs who used for private purposes the airline travel allowances they accumulated while on official business. This caused a scandal in the middle of the general election campaign. A dozen leading media figures opposed the complaint as an attack on press freedom to investigate sensitive matters. Münterfering withdrew his objection on 10 August.

In October, the ruling coalition in the northern city of Hamburg discussed a proposal by state interior minister Ronald Schill to allow the authorities to monitor with listening devices and cameras people (including journalists), suspected of having contacts with terrorists. The plan was dropped after protests from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the national journalists' federation, lawyers' and doctors' associations and Protestant and Catholic churches.

Three policemen who attacked a correspondent of the Japanese TV station NHK were given suspended jail sentences ranging from six to 18 months and fined 2,000 euros each on 12 December. They had beaten the journalist, who wished to remain anonymous, while he was covering a demonstration in Berlin by the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) on 25November 2000. He was displaying his press card and watching the scene from a distance. The police were arrested after being identified on amateur video footage.


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