I have mentioned the goings on with Stern journalist Hans Martin Tillack before. In today's Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard goes into a great deal of detail (see link).
Funnily enough I had a chat with Hans Martin yesterday and he is reasonably phlegmatic about the whole affair. His leaving party (to return to Hamburg - not as was suggested by OLAF Washington) will take place in a couple of weeks and should be an interesting event. I wonder if the spooks and snoops from OLAF will be watching the doors to check who comes and goes.
Of course the reason why they were frightened that he might be going to the US is that there he would not be in the jurisdiction of the EU arrest warrant – thus sacrosanct. As E-P points out, the Stern has no office in Washington, and OLAF was doing this just to speed up the activities of the Belgian police. The reason for the unseemly haste is simple. There is a piece of legislation winding its weary way through the Belgian system that will provide a level (not a very good level admittedly) of legal protection for journalists.
The bottom line is of course that Joachim Gross (the then spokesman for Michele Schreyer) tried to stitch up Tillack, by using the anti fraud organisation OLAF. OLAF was happy to take part in the witch-hunt due to the fact that Tillack had also embarrassed them.
They issued orders to the Belgian police, who conscientiously carried them out, rather unusually for the Belgian constabulary – but there again any suggestion from the Commission is carried out by Belgian authorities pronto – he who pays the piper. In fact I am surprised that there any documents relating to this are extant. A nod and a wink would normally suffice.
The funniest part of the whole charade?
Hans-Martin is demanding compensation for wrongful arrest and the illegal sequestration of his notes. Oh yes and the two year whispering campaign carried out by OLAF to undermine his position.
The Commission’s position, according to Hans- Martin is that they reject monetary compensation because “their actions have massively increased my profile and made me famous, thus increasing my worth”.