Guilty by Association The Suspected Terrorist Dr. Andrej Holm

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare


DIGG
THIS

The
Suspect

German
academic Dr. Andrej Holm is the father of three children and lives
in Berlin. He is a sociologist interested in the power relations
of gentrification and urban renewal and is a critic of German government
policies. He is also a suspected terrorist and under arrest in solitary
confinement.

The
Arrest

On
July 31st 2007 the home of German academic Dr. Andrej
Holm was searched by the German Federal Police. He was then arrested
and flown by helicopter to the German Federal Court in Karlsruhe
and brought before the custodial judge. This father of three children
has been held in the Berlin-Moabit awaiting trial. He was charged
with “membership in a terrorist association according to  129a
StGB” (German Penal Code, section 7 on "Crimes against Public
Order"). He and three other people were charged with belonging
to a "militant gruppe"/"mg" which is a militant
group or terrorist organization. Several other academics also had
their homes searched, and all had been under surveillance since
September 2006.

Several
hours before the academics had their homes searched, Florian L.,
Oliver R. und Axel H. were arrested in the Brandenburg region around
Berlin and accused of attempted arson of four German Federal Army
vehicles. These three are suspected of other acts of arson.

The
four are detained in solitary confinement:

“Andrej H.,
as well as Florian L., Oliver R. und Axel H., are detained since
1st August 2007 in Berlin-Moabit under very strict conditions:
they are locked in solitary confinement 23 hours a day and are
allowed only one hour of courtyard walk. Visits are limited to
a total of half an hour every two weeks. Contacts, including contacts
with lawyers, are allowed only through separation panes, including
contact with their lawyers. The mail of the defense is checked.”

The
Allegations

The
Federal Prosecutor (Bundesanwaltschaft) is investigating all seven,
as they are suspected of “membership in a terrorist association”
according to 129a StGB.

Of
the academics, only Dr. Andrej Holm was arrested. According to his
supporters, he is alleged to have met one of these three suspected
arsonists on two occasions in the first half of 2007 in supposedly
“conspiratorial circumstances.” According to the German Government
– “This [arrest as a suspected terror group member] is the
result of among other things the fact of comprehensive conspiratorial
contacts and meetings in particular with the accused of Florian
L.” “Dies ergibt sich unter anderem aus der Tatsache umfassender
konspirativer Kontakte und Treffen insbesondere mit dem Beschuldigten
Florian L.” The German Federal Prosecutors do not want to hinder
an ongoing investigation so they have made no more information available.

Note
that Dr. Andrej Holm, according to the German
Government Web Site
, is arrested only for suspected membership
due to meeting with only one of the accused. How dangerous is this
group? The primary suspected activity of this group is arson of
vehicles — most recently government vehicles. He was not arrested
for doing or planning anything. This is an admission that he is
only guilty by association.

Why
He's Guilty

The
only information anyone has explaining the reasons for Dr. Andrej
Holm's suspected membership in a terrorist organization is the warrant.

According
to US Professor Peter Marcuse

The prosecutor's
files include some 200 folders with approximately 80,000 pages,
presumably including many of the publications of the four academics.
The details aren't yet clear, because the prosecutor's office
is short-staffed and hasn't had time to Xerox the contents for
the defendant's lawyers. According to Indymedia, “a substantial
part of the documents consists of analyses of… comparisons of
formulations and punctuation of texts [of the defendants with
the writings of the mg.] Is the word “imperialism” used,
is G8 written G-8 or G8, is the IWF [IMF] referred to.” And, frequently,
“gentrification.”

According
to the text of the warrant, Dr. Andrej Holm and the alleged arsonists
are suspected of using similar keywords and phrases in their writings.
That is how they know he's a member in the group — as well as meeting
one member a couple of times. It is suspected that Dr. Andrej Holm
is contributing to texts created by the alleged arsonists. Everyone's
favorite example is the word gentrification, which is on only 2,400,000
web pages and is a common English term for anyone discussing urban
social or real estate trends.

As political
scientist holding a PhD, Matthias B. is seen to be intellectually
capable to “author the sophisticated texts of the u2018militante gruppe'
(mg)”. Additionally, “as employee in a research institute he has
access to libraries which he can use inconspicuously in order
to do the research necessary to the drafting of texts of the u2018militante
gruppe'”

Apparently
the alleged arsonists are not qualified to write their own texts,
and a suitably qualified academic had to be found. One wonders if
the alleged arsonists could not be charged with writing texts without
a license.

They
also appear to associate Dr. Andrej Holm with G-8 protestors. When
the G-8 summit was in Rostock Germany in 2007 the 16,000 German
police faced 25,000 to 80,000 protesters
. There were multiple
incidents of violence by both sides. Total number of injuries is
unclear, but was probably hundreds on each side. It is probable
the police view anyone associated with the protestors as probable
terrorists.

I
have no indication that Dr. Andrej Holm advocated any sort of violence.
Sociologist Rainer
Rilling says

His political
and academic publications, most of which I am familiar with, neither
call for damage to property — even though most critical urban
sociologist might have a hard time suppressing such desires —
nor for violent assaults on persons, let alone for terrorist attacks.
He also never tried to justify them. The whole affair stinks to
high heaven.

Academic
Terrorist or Terrorized Academic?

This
appears to be a case of guilt by association. Dr. Andrej Holm is
not an advocate of violence. He is not accused of planning or committing
any acts of violence. He is accused of membership in a terrorist
group – that is to say association with suspected terrorists.
Even this is tenuous as he appears to have only met one member a
few times, and the crux of the association is the similarity between
the group’s writing and his. This assumes that the terms and phrases
aren't common jargon, and the group couldn't have liked his writing
and plagiarized or borrowed heavily.

This
is quite disturbing. Apparently in Germany one can meet a couple
times with someone one shares some common interests with but doesn't
really know and doesn't necessarily agree with on all issues, and
one can become a suspected member of any organization the new acquaintance
belongs to. Just because two people agree on problems in society
doesn't mean that both agree that violence and terrorism are the
answer. This is an ominous attack on free speech and freedom of
association.

Hopefully
there will be enough international outrage to force the prosecutors
to release Dr. Andrej Holm or come up with real charges. It is unfortunate
that civilized countries like Germany or the US continue to violate
the people's rights. It is extremely worrisome to imagine that this
trend of criminalizing our right to free association and free speech
might continue to expand to include more and more people.

Further
Reading

August
23, 2007

Anders
Mikkelsen [send him mail]
is a cost management consultant in New York City.

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare
  • LRC Blog

  • LRC Podcasts