Open Letter to the German Federal Prosecutor (Generalbundesanwaltschaft)

Bündnis für die Einstellung des § 129a-Verfahrens
c/o Haus der Demokratie
Greifswalder Sraße 4
D-10405 Berlin Germany
einstellung [at]

Press Statement, August 15th 2007

A group of international scholars sees academic freedom at risk in Germany, and demands "an immediate end of the § 129a-proceedings" and "the release the imprisoned from jail at once".

Germany under criticism

Following numerous protests within Germany, prestigious scholars from abroad are now also demanding the immediate suspension of the recent § 129a-proceedings led by the Federal Prosecutor. The charge put forth against several German researchers, "membership in a terrorist association", the so-called ‘militant group', is deduced from their intellectual capabilities and their access to libraries. Altogether, seven individuals are targets of the ongoing criminal investigation, four of whom are held in strict confinement, including the sociologist Dr. Andrej Holm.

International outrage

Over the last week, the proceeding led by the Federal Prosecutor has triggered a storm of indignation. At the Annual Meeting of the American Sociology Association ( in New York, where 4000 social scientists have been conferencing since last Saturday, the case has been discussed in several meetings, petitions are circulating, and urban sociologists in particular express grave concern about the events in Germany. A resolution sent to the Federal Prosecutor states:

»We demand that the Federal Prosecutor (Bundesanwaltschaft) immediately suspend the § 129a-proceedings against all parties concerned and release Andrej Holm and the other imprisoned from jail at once. We strongly reject the outrageous accusation that the academic research activities and the political engagement of Andrej Holm are to be viewed as complicity in an alleged "terrorist association". No arrest warrant can be deduced from the academic research and political work of Andrej Holm. The Federal Prosecutor, through applying Article § 129a, is threatening academic freedom as well as social-political engagement.«

One of the justifications, which the construct of the Federal Prosecutor is based on, is the fact that three of the seven accused are social scientists who are said to be intellectually capable to "author the sophisticated texts of the ‘militante gruppe'". The political scientist Matthias B., holding a PhD, is a suspect because "as associate of a research institute he has access to libraries which he may use inconspicuously in order to do the research necessary to draft texts of the ‘militante gruppe'". One of the four imprisoned, Dr. Andrej Holm, is alleged "to have been active in the resistance mounted by the extreme left-wing scene against the 2007 World Economic Summit in Heiligendamm" (G8), and to have met with one of the other suspects "in a conspiratorial manner". One of the other accused individuals is deemed to be a "terrorist" because an address list was found with him, including the name of Dr. Andrej Holm.

You will find attached the complete resolution (in German and English) that has been signed by leading international social scientists and sent as open letter to the Federal Prosecutor.

Among the initial signatures are:

Prof. Dr. Manuel Aalbers (Universiteit van Amsterdam), Prof. Dr. Elmar Altvater (Freie Universität Berlin), Prof. Dr. Rowland Atkinson (University of Tasmania, Australien), Prof. Dr. Lawrence D. Berg (Canada Research Chair in Human Rights, Diversity & Identity, University of British Columbia), Prof. Dr. Neil Brenner (New York University, Sociology), Prof. Dr. Craig Calhoun (President, Social Science Research Council, and University Professor, Sociology, NYU), Prof. Dr. Mike Davis (Prof. of Urban History, Irvine/USA), Prof. Dr. Frank Deppe (Universität Marburg), Prof. Dr. Michael Edwards (The Bartlett Centre for Architecture and Planning, UCL, London), Prof. Dr. Geoff Eley (University of Michigan, Karl Pohrt Distinguished University Professor), Prof. Dr. John Friedmann (University of California, Los Angeles), Prof. Dr. Herbert Gans (Columbia University, New York), Prof. Dr. Alan Harding (University of Salford, UK), Prof. Dr. Michael Harloe (University of Salford, Vice-President), Prof. Dr. David Harvey (Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Graduate Center of the City University of New York, New York), Prof. Dr. Bob Jessop (Lancaster Universtiy), Prof. Dr. Roger Keil (York University, Toronto, Canada), Prof. Dr. Rianne Mahon (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada), Prof. Dr. Peter Marcuse (Columbia University, New York), Prof. Dr. Margit Mayer (Freie Universität Berlin), Prof. Dr. Philipp Oswalt (Universität Kassel), Prof. Dr. Frances Fox Piven (President of the American Sociological Association, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology, City University New York), Prof. Dr. Andrew Ross (New York University, New York), Prof. Dr. Roland Roth (FH Magdeburg/Stendal), Prof. Dr. Dieter Rucht (WZB Berlin), Prof. Dr. Saskia Sassen (Columbia University, New York, and London School of Economics) Prof. Dr. Andrew Sayer (Lancaster University, Sociology), Prof. Dr. Richard Sennett (Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics, Bemis Professor of Social Sciences at MIT, Professor of the Humanities at New York University), Prof. Dr. William Sewell (The Frank P. Hixon Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and History Emeritus, University of Chicago), Prof. Dr. Neil Smith (Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography, Director of the Center for Place Culture and Politics, Graduate Center of the City University of New York), Prof. Dr. Michael Storper (Centennial Professor of Economic Geography, London School of Economics, and Professor of Economic Sociology, Science Po, Paris), Prof. Dr. Erik Swyngedouw (University of Manchester, UK), Prof. Dr. Peter J. Taylor (Loughborough University, UK), Prof. Dr. John Urry (Lancaster University, Sociology).


For further information, please contact in New York Prof. Dr. Neil Brenner (New York University, fon: USA-212-998 8349, neil.brenner [at], in Berlin Prof. Dr. Margit Mayer (Freie Universität Berlin, fon: 030-8385-2875), and the lawyer Wolfgang Kaleck (fon: 030-4467-9218).