Against the criminalization of critical science

Statement of the Academic Advisory Council of Attac Germany concerning the arrest of the social scientist Andrej H.

On July 30th and 31st, four men have been arrested – accused of being members of a terrorist organization, according to §129a of the German penal code. The Academic Advisory Council of Attac Germany condemns these current proceedings and the official justification of the warrants of arrest. They leave the basis of the constitutional state and are a further example of the extension of state-of-emergency-terrorism laws: As the defence lawyers say: the "attempt to set three cars on fire without the possibility of physical harming anybody is labelled as terrorism".

The Academic Advisory Council especially criticizes that the scientific activity of Andrej H. is taken as a justification for his arrest:

  • A scientific article of Andrej H. published in 1998 is counted as one of the suspicious facts. This article allegedly contain keywords and phrases, which are also used in the texts written by the Militante Gruppe (militant group), [the putative terrorist group eyed]
  • Being a political scientist with a PhD and a doctoral fellow, Andrej H. is considered to be "intellectually capable to write the sophisticated texts of the Militante Gruppe".
  • Furthermore, "working in a research institute, he has access to libraries without attracting attention, which he can use to conduct the research necessary to write the texts of the Militante Gruppe".
  • That Andrej H. has published an article in June 2005, which discusses a failed plot of the terrorist group Revolutionäre Zellen (revolutionary cells) and that this plot has been taken up by the Militante Gruppe in a text in spring 2005, is considered to be further evidence.
  • Being a doctoral fellow gives Andrej H. the "intellectual and factual capabilities necessary to write the relatively sophisticated texts of the Militante Gruppe".

This does not only criminalize critical social science but puts it directly under the suspicion of terrorism. The official reasoning behind the arrest is an insult for common sense. If this reasoning is accepted by society it will destroy the fundamentals of a critical public in a free society. If the reasoning is taken as evidence for the membership in a terrorist organization, critical science is put under general suspicion.

The Advisory Council fears that the federal minister of the interior, Wolfgang Schäuble and the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) started a process, which will substantially undermine the principles of the rule of law in Germany. The process started with criminalization of the preparations for this year´s G8 protests. Offices, bookstores and apartments were searched, with reference to the highly controversial §129a of the German penal code, to an extent unknown since the 1970s. This kind of criminalization and exclusion contains the danger that it is these government actions producing and provoking what they allegedly want to prevent: terrorism. Attac´s Academic Advisory Council demands from the officials to stop the criminal proceedings against Andrej H., to release him and to return to a mode of operation according to the principles of the rule of law.

For further question please contact:

Prof. Dr. Andreas Fisahn, jurist, telephone: 0049 (0) 170 752 7560
Prof Dr. Rainer Rilling, sociologist, telephone: 0049 (0) 170 553 8739